Sean Kelly on Movies

Sean Kelly on Movies

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Thoughts and commentary on the world of film from an Aspergian perspective.

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Hot Docs 2021 Wrap-Up

This was the second virtual edition of the Hot Docs Film Festival and I do have to make note of how much of a challenge it is to cover a film festival remotely. While I do hope that Hot Docs returns to cinemas for its 2022 edition, I still managed to see a decent number of documentaries. So, without further ado, here is my Hot Docs 2021 Wrap-Up!

Recent reviews

The Winter Lake

The Winter Lake

★★★

The Winter Lake is an Ireland/Canada co-production from first-time filmmaker Phil Sheerin. The film stars Anson Boon (1917, Crawl) as troubled teen Tom, who is always carrying around a boxcutter and collecting animal skulls from the wilderness. An introvert with a strained relationship with his mother Elaine, played by Peaky Blinders’ Charlie Murphy, Tom begins to develop a friendship with his neighbour Holly, played by Sex Education‘s Emma Mackey, who takes him out for a good time robbing slot machine…

The Amusement Park

The Amusement Park

★★★½

While he was still in the early years of his career, George A. Romero was hired by the Lutheran Society to create what was essentially a PSA about elder abuse and how we have to show respect to our elderly. The result was this 54-minute horror film starring Lincoln Maazel, who would go on to appear in Romero's 1977 film Martin, in the duo role of the unnamed elderly protagonist, as well as the bookending narrator of the film. Through the…

Spiral: From the Book of Saw is the latest entry in the long-running horror franchise, based on a story idea from star Chris Rock, which also sees director Darren Lynn Bousman return to the franchise for the first time since 2007's Saw IV. The film is effectively a soft reboot for the franchise, focusing on a Jigsaw copycat killer and the efforts of Detective Zeke Banks to track him down. It is quickly pieced together that all the victims of this…

Caveat

Caveat

★★★★

With Caveat, filmmaker Damian Mc Carthy has created a horror film that emphasizes slowly building tension over repeated jump scares. Featuring an incredibly small cast of only three central characters, the film keeps you guessing until pretty much the final five minutes whether the source of the film’s horror is human, supernatural, or somewhere in between. Indeed, probably the most chilling element of the film is Olga’s rabbit doll, which you know is going to start drumming at some point,…

Skull: The Mask

Skull: The Mask

★★★½

At the very least, Skull: The Mask is a film that will greatly satisfy gorehounds since the film is filled with quite well down practical effects. A nice added touch is how the titular villain, played by Brazilian wrestling champion Rurik Jr., becomes increasingly blood-soaked as the film progresses, making for a quite striking visual. However, the issue I have with Skull: The Mask is that even though the carnage is somewhat satisfying, the plot that accompanies it is quite…

Moby Doc

Moby Doc

★★★½

Moby Doc is a film credited to Rob Gordon Bralver, director of many Moby music videos and the 2011 documentary Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story, however, it’s probably safe to say that Moby Doc is an outlet for Moby to tell his story in his unique way. Utilizing archival footage, along with wooden puppets and “the childhood trauma reenactment players,” Moby Doc covers the musician’s rise and fall, followed by a bigger rise and a steeper fall, all…

On paper, Army of the Dead sounds like a refreshing change of pace for director Zack Snyder, who spent much of the last decade embroiled in DCEU and has recently come back from a hiatus, following the tragic death of his daughter. It’s probably not a coincidence that he has decided to return zombie films, as a way to reboot his career with the genre that started it. However, the Zack Snyder of today is a much different filmmaker than…

Oxygen

Oxygen

★★★★

Oxygen is a film that is not only the science fiction debut for filmmaker Alexandre Aja, but it is also his first feature produced in his native France since Aja’s 2003 breakthrough Haute Tension. Featuring a plot quite reminiscent of 2010’s Buried, the action of Oxygen takes place entirely within the cryogenic pod occupied by Mélanie Laurent’s character of Elizabeth Hansen. Liz is accompanied only by the A.I. medical program M.I.L.O., voiced by Mathieu Amalric, who is of little help…