Send In The Clown: An IT review.


Directed by: Andy Muschetti.

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer.

Plot: The town of Derry, Maine has been plagued by the unexplained disappearances of its children every 27 years. When a group of 7 young outcasts find a connection to the disappearances, they are confronted by the manifestation of their worst fears.

The production history of the big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s IT has been a turbulent one, languishing in development hell since 2009 and going through no less that 3 directors & 2 Pennywise castings, the writing on the wall for this adaptation didn’t look good. With much of the world still viewing the story of IT through the rose-tinited goggles of nostalgia for the 1990 made for TV adaptation which starred the excellent Tim Curry as Pennywise, one of the only things that actually stands up to the test of time with that particular production but that’s a different blog post altogether.

So what of Muschetti’s IT? Well firstly, this is a great film, notice I didn’t just say great horror film? It is a great horror film, that much is self-evident pretty quickly into the films duration, It’s scares are effective and plentiful and it’s big bad is tremendously realised by Bill Skarsgård’s note perfect portrayal of interdimentional baddie Pennywise but this is also a great film in its own right, irrespective of genre. It’s superbly cast, well adapted and shot. It has a fantastic sense of time and place, the late 80’s vibe is stamped effectively with the fashion of the time, cinema posters and marquees for films like Batman & Beetlejuice and some superb choices in music are also employed featuring the likes of The Cure, Anthrax, XTC and The Replacements to name a few and a great reoccurring joke with one Losers love of New Kids On The Block confirm its late 80’s setting wonderfully. I have to say, this adaptation of IT puts the 1990 TV miniseries to shame, this is IT how it should be portrayed, no shoddy acting and dodgy pacing here, it’s taut, tense, well acted, frequently funny and pays an enormous amount of care in respecting the source material. 

The cast in IT are utterly fantastic, particularly the younger contingent who portray The Loser Club, the coming-of-age feel of their camaraderie locks in perfectly, Finn Wolfhard’s Richie being a consistent high point with his incessant and often hilarious wisecracking that stays on the right side of irritation for the film’s duration due in part to his fantastic sparring interplay with Jack Dylan Grazer’s Eddie. The most obvious of questions asked of IT is aimed at Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise, just how does he stack alongside Tim Curry’s performance? I feel this question is like asking to compare Jack Nicholson’s & Heath Ledger’s Joker, they are both fantastic performances in their own right but are polar opposites and everyone is going to have their preference and I must say, possibly controversially, Skarsgård actually pips it for me. There is an almost childlike quality Skarsgård brings to the character which is as fascinating as it is disturbing, turning from seemingly innocent (well, for a clown in a drain anyway) to creepy to outright terrifying on a dime during the film’s opening 5 minutes, its nuanced, expertly so and an absolute joy to behold. There is a general feel that the character here is much more 3-Dimensional and well realised than Curry’s version, no disrespect to him, he was without doubt the best thing about the TV miniseries but as with Ledger’s Joker, this is on another level entirely.

I highly recommend you view IT. An 80’s kid is going to love it for its perfectly captured & conveyed nostalgia, an avid cinema-goer is going to love its Spielberg-esque coming-of-age camaraderie and horror fans, particularly Stephen King fans, are going to be very happy with its scares and obvious love & respect for its source material. This is how you handle a big screen adaptation, without a doubt the strongest horror offering of the year so far.

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Learn Lynch!: The seedier side of directorial fandom.


During the months running up to Twin Peaks: The Return starting I decided to rewatch the first 2 seasons & FWWM, to introduce it to my wife & refresh the plot in my own head, I also decided to join a few discussion groups on social media to feed the buzz of the new season which was growing more palpable by the day. At first I thought it was an isolated incident, then I thought it was trolling when I observed it again, after awhile I noticed it to be a regular occurrence, people who described themselves as ardent David Lynch fans openly berating and belittling someone because they said that Lynch can be a little hard to follow. Now, I won’t deny this point in the slightest, if you’re not familiar with his work and don’t pay attention to the minutiae of what plays out in one of his films or tv shows, yes, it is very easy to find David Lynch hard to follow, he isn’t a director who’s output is massively accessible, a lot of his work is abstract and relies heavily on interpretation and investment on the viewers part. Now, does this mean that a person should be allowed to make another feel small because they don’t completely understand something in a Lynch piece? Hell no! 

Firstly, because someone doesn’t understand something doesn’t mean that they can’t appreciate it. You don’t see art critics berating someone because they don’t understand the symbolism in a painting or sculpture do you? The exact same principle applies here in my opinion. There is a nasty trend that I have observed amongst online fans of David Lynch who will spout some pseudo-intellectual guff about how people do not understand cinema because the person they are talking at (I would say talking to but that implies a two way discussion) didn’t understand a scene in Twin Peaks, they will then talk at length about what happened throwing a ridiculously convoluted and almost certainly incorrect theory into the works to boot just to make the other person feel even smaller. Call this ‘trolling’, ‘shit-posting’, whatever, its bullying plain and simple and it stinks. 

A fan will ask another fan for their thoughts and theories on a thing they mutually really dig, I get that, who doesn’t do that with something they love? What I don’t get is the horrid, hipsterish trend of stating how you have liked something longer than another person so you obviously understand it better. A post was made by someone to solely pick out people who didn’t watch Twin Peaks when it started and any of those people who jump on before The Return are just ‘millennials’ bandwagoning. Now, I see no problem whatsoever with someone catching up on something before a new and much touted series is about to start, but to berate someone who didn’t start to watch the show back in the early 90’s as a bandwagoner? That is ridiculous. I didn’t watch Twin Peaks for the first time until I was leaving secondary school, this would have probably been a good 6 or 7 years after Twin Peaks ended, does that affect my knowledge or appreciation of it? In no way whatsoever. There are people who may have only just got into Twin Peaks that may have picked up on facets I may have missed, which goes back to our own interpretation of it, our own appreciation of the work and viewing it subjectively as what it is widely considered to be, art. 

This is a trend I don’t see ending any time soon, if it’s not David Lynch it’ll be another directors art used as a weapon. I would say that these outlooks need to be challenged, as with all cases of bullying, it is not for one person to hold themselves higher than another because in some way they feel that they have the overriding answer to an artists work. In the words of Vanilla Ice, we should stop, collaborate and listen (I actually can’t believe I managed to bring Vanilla Ice into a David Lynch piece) because when a number of people with the same appreciation of one thing chip in their own perception of it in a constructive way, our collective appreciation can only grow.

Back In Style: A Twin Peaks- The Return review.


*ATTENTION* It is advised that you view the entirety of this season before reading the following review, some spoilers will feature as I delve into plot details. You have been warned.

Back in 2014 it was confirmed via Twitter by David Lynch that Twin Peaks would be returning to our screens, a story left on THAT cliffhanger back in 1991 would be continued and the internet rejoiced. We knew this was going to be something special, little did we know just how special it would turn out to be.

To summarise briefly under the assumption that in reading this you are aware of what transpired in prior seasons, Dale Cooper has been trapped in The Black Lodge for some 25 years whilst his doppelgänger, imbued with an evil spirit who goes by the name of BOB, has taken his place in our reality and gone AWOL after the events of the season 2 finale. A series of events lead to Dale coming back to our reality at the cost of his own mind, taking the persona of a lawyer called Dougie Jones who for some reason resembles Cooper. Back in Twin Peaks, Deputy Hawk receives a phone call from The Log Lady that’s sets him on Cooper’s path whilst Gordon & Albert at the FBI pursue their own investigation.

The first thing that struck me with this season of Twin Peaks was just how much influence Lynch has held over the development this time round as opposed to his comparatively meagre input into the prior season. It becomes quite clear in the first handful of episodes, particularly the highly regarded 8th episode, of Lynch’s creative input in full control. This season if anything was a true showcase of Lynch being allowed to create without boundaries, without someone to hold him back through fear of people not understanding or wanting him to dumb down his vision and I would myself regard parts of The Return, particularly that aforementioned 8th episode as some of his best work to date. David Lynch has arguably worked at his best without outside interference, to be allowed to create his art without having to answer for it. When you juxtapose this season against season 2, with Lynch’s minimal input for a large section of the season, the show meandered, it became almost soap-opera-like, banal in its relative normality. Season 3 in comparison is Lynch unleashed and it is glorious.

We were this season given new facets to the Twin Peaks story to wrap our heads around, the otherworldly mother figure, Jowday (The Judy that David Bowie’s Philip Jeffries wasn’t going to talk about in FWWM) that apparently gave birth to BOB, a terrifying apparition that on our first encounter with, literally tore people’s faces off. We also got to see quite lengthy glimpses, particularly in the aforementioned 8th episode, of the various lodge inhabitants or at the very least, denizens of that plane of existence. We saw our first real glimpse of what we can assume to be The White Lodge, inhabited by The Fireman & Seniorita Dido, The Fireman of course resembling The Giant from the original series though not billed as such who appears to be The White Lodge’s equivalent of Jowday, birthing what appears to be Laura Palmer and sending her essence to Earth, Laura possibly being a cosmic counterbalance to BOB of sorts following the cataclysmic atomic detonation that seemly opened the respective gateway’s between worlds. The other perplexing new characters are The Woodsmen, dark skinned apparitions in disheveled clothing that also appeared around the time of the atomic detonation and seem to have some kind of connection to The Black Lodge, heralds if you will who appear to be a reimagining of a character briefly glimpsed in FWWM played by Jurgan Prochnow in Laura’s dream sequence. The Return also brings the use of tulpas into Twin Peaks mythology with the characters of Dougie Jones and the person who everyone believed to be Dianne actually both being tulpas or constructs.

For the most part and it will certainly help if you are familiar with Lynch’s writing style, The Return is, as with a lot of Lynch’s past work, heavily left open to viewer interpretation, there is minimal hand-holding in The Return and the hardcore Lynch faithful wouldn’t have it any other way, though, a number of story strands are left unexplained or up in the air. What happened to Audrey? It isn’t addressed in the finale so we have no idea of her situation. Also, Sarah Palmer rather dramatically removed her face toward the end of the season to reveal a dark void and a rather sinister smile before ripping out a truckers throat in a bar, we do briefly see Sarah Palmer in the finale although her prior conduct was never readdressed. The season was also left on another massive cliffhanger with Coop & Laura/Carrie outside the Palmer/Tremond residence in Twin Peaks as Laura screamed and everything cut to black. It’s already known in Peaks lore that the Tremonds are connected to the Lodges, are the Black Lodge denizens attempting to track Laura? Have they found her? Whether these things have been left in the air deliberately with the intent of another season to answer them remains to be seen, they are rather perplexing questions to leave up in the air with the possibility of never being answered though.

The Return sees many actors from the original series making an appearance. Kyle MacLachlan is phenomenal this season, predominantly split between the roles of Cooper/Dougie & Cooper’s doppelgänger, Dopple-Coop is all brooding and bass-ass with the constant threat of violence hanging over any scene he is in, Dougie couldn’t be anymore different. A hugely sympathetic and humorous turn, Dougie Jones, a lawyer who resembles Cooper and who’s persona Cooper employs for the majority of the season. A monosyllabic savant guided by the other place to Cooper’s salvation, Dougie has been a constant high point of the season. Lynch’s Gordon Cole has also been a season highlight alongside his note perfect partnership with the late great Miguel Ferrer as Albert Rosenfeld, the two bounce of other perfectly, Gordon’s abject oddness being the perfect foil to Alberts quiet, surrendering incredulity, the sense Albert has had to deal with this kinda shit for years and now he just succumbs to it. Some great guest turns have been thrown out this season also from the likes of Laura Dern as the bristling & acerbic Dianne, finally a psychical presence and not just a name spoken into a dictaphone. Some noteworthy turns are also given by original series OG’s Harry Goaz, David Patrick Kelly, Russ Tamblyn and Dana Ashbrooke alongside new faces such as Jim Belushi, Naomi Watts, Matthew Lillard and Sara Paxton.

As with the prior two seasons, music plays a big part in Twin Peaks so it was with some degree of relief to learn that composer Angelo Badalamenti returns to score this season alongside a ridiculously rich and diverse lineup of musical talent ranging from contemporary acts like Chromatics, Sharon Van Etten and Lissie alongside the more recognisable faces of Eddie Vedder and Nine Inch Nails as artists appearing onstage at The Roadhouse’s ‘Bang, Bang Bar’ music nights. For the most part the musical guests have been great and very well curated, I for one will be picking up a copy of this seasons soundtrack when the record comes out for sure.

Newcomers to Twin Peaks will be thoroughly bewildered by The Return and will have probably given up a few episodes in, for the faithful however, this has been a stunning return to form for the show as The Return took us in surprising & mind-bending directions. With every twist & turn it retained the charm of the first 2 seasons whilst presenting a much darker story that didn’t feel as cosy in its oddness as the Twin Peaks of old. The Return carried a much more sinister atmosphere throughout this entire season and it has been an absolute joy to behold, every barking, mind-boggling, brain-f**king second of it. If Twin Peaks is destined to return yet again for a 4th season, it remains to be seen, both Lynch and Showtime have remained stoically tight lipped on the subject. The fact that we even got The Return remains a miracle in of itself,  I wasn’t really expecting an all story strands resolved conclusion to the story to be forthcoming, if ever. Although I’m sure many people will, I don’t believe It’s really our place to criticise what Lynch has created here because as with most things the man has created, it is art, pure and simple, it’s there to be interpreted, not to spoonfeed you answers and give you exactly what you want, what we did get however, I am more than happy with. 

A Bad Apple?: A Death Note (2017) review.


Directed by: Adam Wingard.

Starring: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Willem Dafoe.

Plot: A teenage boy comes across a black note book that gives him the power to take the life of anyone who’s name is written in its pages. Crafting himself a godlike alter-ego, it isn’t long before the authorities and a young and gifted private investigator are on his trail.

Alarm bells were ringing quite early for me when this film was announced, not necessarily because it was a remake, I’m not really one for jumping on the judgement bandwagon when it comes to remakes. I was also not really concerned that it was being bankrolled by Netflix, they have been securing themselves some fine films of late, some I have really enjoyed and favourably reviewed. Not even because of the anime it was based on, I have watched some of it and it is excellent but live action counterparts more often than not end up being entirely different beasts, I knew this was going to be the case here so didn’t jump the gun fretting here either. No, it came more from being a fan of the live action Japanese originals and seeing that the film had been gifted to the director of last years atrocious Blair Witch. You may remember I named him back then as ‘some hack’, his name is Adam Wingard, he’s earned a namecheck for his skill now in my opinion.

I’ll start by saying that Death Note isn’t completely the god awful mess it could have quite easily been. I felt initially it wasn’t in safe hands and I feel I had just cause to be reticent considering, but director Wingard has made a bold and noteworthy effort with Death Note. The film is stylish, tailored for a late teenage audience with its carefully curated soundtrack, suitably angsty subject matter and OTT gory death scenes. It is beautifully shot to give Wingard his dues, it looks the business and the expensively CG Ryuk is easily the most spot on thing about the film, from his appearance to the perfectly cast Willem Dafoe on mo-cap and vocal duties. The rest of the cast deliver admirably, Wingard coaxing some decent performances across the board, I particularly liked Lakeith Stanfield’s nuanced take on super-sleuth L. This is unfortunately where all praise ends.

This adaptation of Death Note isn’t written well at all and suffers quite badly from trying to cram too much badly conveyed story into its 100 minute run time, It really feels shoehorned to meet a deadline and it is painfully noticeable. Also, the character of Light is pretty off the mark from the anime & films. Prior, he was a cool, calculating sociopath and a worthy foil to L, in this film he shrieks like a little girl when he first encounters Ryuk, it is massively out of character.  The back and forth between L & Light which was so central to the anime & original live action versions also feels as though it has been either badly handled or completely misinterpreted altogether here, that feel of cat & mouse is almost entirely absent. There have been some changes to the story also and it does feel that with the narrative changes that have been made in this version of Death Note that it is being squarely catered toward a western audience and not necessarily one that was familiar with the original source material in the first place, these changes don’t necessarily feel like they suit any kind of thematic purpose, they just feel narratively lazy, cliched and thrown together which is a pity as Wingard and his cast really did some fine work on this film only to be let down by the writers and the immensity cynical production. A shame.

Death Note is currently available to stream via Netflix.

The Winds Of Winter: A Game Of Thrones Season 7 review.


**ATTENTION** This is a full review of Season 7 of Game Of Thrones and contains spoilers relating to main plot points. It is advised you watch the Season before reading on.

This penultimate season of GOT has been nothing short of epic for almost its entire duration, from family reunions to dragon based shock & awe assaults to Aunty loving and the prerequisite surprise exits and moving of all the pieces into place for the final season. In just 7 episodes it has ran the gamut of emotions and delivered massively in less than its usual season length, one of the most satisfying seasons of the show so far.

The story this season has predictably moved forward in leaps and bounds to set us up for the end game, all of the respective pieces have been put in place as the show moves with purpose toward its conclusion. As the season commences, Daenerys is now set up in her ancestral home of Dragonstone, wasting no time in moving to secure the Seven Kingdoms through a campaign of attacks that are subsequently thwarted, delivered by a series of humbling defeats courtesy of the Lannister forces. It certainly puts The Mother Of Dragons on the back foot early on, Although Daenerys isn’t beaten at every turn, the absolutely jaw-dropping dragon attack on the Lannister army is a fist-pumping highlight of the season. Perhaps Daenerys most crushing defeat this season however has been the loss of her dragon Viserion in the seasons penultimate episode by the hands of The Night King, or more precisely, stuck with the pointy end of a big frickin ice spear. The real shock however comes when The Night King chillingly, no pun intended, resurrects the beast in the dying moments of that episode, a single blue eye flicking back to life.

Jon Snow has seen many important developments this Season also. Atop the earth-shattering revelation of Jon’s parentage and true name, Aegon Targaryon, making him the rightful heir to The Iron Throne, we also see the erstwhile bastard who knows nowt move early on to align himself with Daenerys and win her trust only to be met with shade by the Khaleesi, not too surprising when his opening gambit is refusal to bend the knee and stories of ice zombies, you really can’t blame her for being reticent. After much convincing he seeks to head north of The Wall to trap a White Walker to convince Daenerys & Cersei that there are greater and more prominent threats to the world than the war for the throne and sets out past Eastwatch with Westeros’s answer to The Suicide Squad, these literally are the worst heroes ever, a driven Jon, a redemption fueled Jorah, the recently rediscovered Gendry, and the explosive and unpredictable combination of The Brotherhood Without Banners, The Hound & Tormund. It felt as those this team really could do with more screen time as their onscreen chemistry was phenomenal particularly between The Hound & Tormund.

Winterfell has seen its fair share of surprise and intrigue this season with the remaining Stark children reuniting with the return home firstly of the increasingly creepy and detached Bran and secondly by the ever distrusting and vengeful Arya. Sanasa had also been seen slipping a little too comfortably into the role of Lady Of Winterfell in the absence of The King In The North and continues to be manipulated, or so it seemed, by the constantly plotting Littlefinger. 

As with every season of GOT, we saw some much loved/despised characters meet their end. Olena Tyrell, The Queen Of Thorns finally ran out of luck this season when her home of Highgarden was sacked by Lannister forces and Jamie gave Olena the choice of dying by poison rather than Cersei gettng her hands on her. To the end though, Olena gets the better of Cersei yet again by admitting she was the person who poisoned Joffrey and not Tyrion as Cersei believed, a fact Olena knows will drive Cersei mad with rage knowing she won’t get to torture her to death. Dame Diana Rigg has been utterly fantastic as Olena, wise, acerbic and frequently hilarious, a constant high point of any episode she appeared in, kudos also to the person who convinced her to drop a C-bomb. This season also saw the exit of Paul Kay’s Red Priest, Thoros Of Myr. An occasional guest star since the early seasons, Kay’s Thoros had always exuded a likability even if this is a character we’re not necessarily supposed to like or trust, this is hugely down to the magnetism and charm of Kay’s performance which has been nothing short of brilliant for the duration. Last of all, Finally, the arch player of Westeros gets played beautifully by the Stark sisters. Littlefinger finally met his end this series when his latest plan to turn the Starks against one another fails spectacularly. Yup, for all his cunning & conniving machinations, Littlefinger’s wits finally fail him and he meets his snivelling, grovelling and immensely satisfying fate at Arya’s hands, could it have been any more perfect? 

We are left with a pretty damn exciting season close. Cersei’s plan to apparently help and then turn on Jon & Co is shot down by an apparently deserting Jamie, Jon & Aunty D get it on *shudder*, and the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers, The Night King riding a newly zombified Viserion, makes Eastwatch his bitch and blasts a massive hole into The Wall allowing the dead to pass into Westeros, what a way to end the season! Given that there are rumours that the final season may be delayed by a year and at the time of writing this review, no official word from HBO, this could be a more tortuous cliffhanger than Jon/Aegon being stabbed. Season 7 as a whole for me has been immensely satisfying viewing. We have had more than the prerequisite amount of murder, intrigue and Ill advised sexual liaisons with newly united aunti..sorry, allies, this truncated season with brand new iconic Thrones moments to keep us chomping at the bit for more, even if the extended wait may drive us over the edge. 

Take Me Home: A Logan Lucky review.


Directed by: Steven Soderbergh.

Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keogh, Daniel Craig, Seth McFarlane, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakum, Sebastian Stan.

Plot: War vet and labourer Jimmy Logan is laid off from his job due to a wound he picked up during service. Desperate to provide for his young daughter, Jimmy conceives of a heist roping in the help of his family and a notorious demolitions expert and his brothers. Can they pull off the robbery and get away with it?

In 2013, Steven Soderbergh announced that his Liberace biopic, Behind The Candelabra was to be his final directorial offering, so it was with some degree of surprise and more than a small amount of excitement that he announced his comeback with Logan Lucky. Logan Lucky sees Soderbergh returning to the format of his earlier successes with a film that feels like a lo-fi Oceans 11, in the best possible way. The film is well written, well directed, humorous and an inordinate amount of entertaining fun.

The ensemble cast of Logan Lucky really is fantastic. There is a great on-screen chemistry between Channing Tatum & Adam Driver as the Logan brothers, a charmingly roguish turn from Daniel Craig as Joe Bang and fine support from the likes of Riley Keogh, Katherine Waterstone and one of the worst British accents this side of Dick Van Dyke from Seth McFarlane. The ensemble gel together as well as any of the Oceans cast and if anything, they kind of feel like their less glitzy opposites, everyone in that film looked fantastic, everyone here looks a little off in some respect. It is an interesting mirror of something it will no doubt be compared to.

If you are a fan of Soderbergh’s previous work, you’re going to love Logan Lucky. It will be compared affectionately to the Oceans films but in my opinion, it stands on its own merits admirably and we’d be very lucky indeed if it’s characters return to our screens in the future.

To The Extreme: The draw of extreme cinema.


There are dark corners of the cinematic landscape populated by films that people would never want to watch or films that they wish that they could un-see, kohl black slices of fiction that remain to some unfathomable why anyone would even want to view them at all. What is the draw of extreme cinema? Is it purely existent to offend? To challenge our sensibilities? or are there messages to be take away once viewed?

There is a rich history in pushing the envelope of what is acceptable to put onto film, going back to the early 60’s and the exploitation films of “The Godfather Of Gore” Herschell Gordon Lewis and the output of George Romero & Dario Argento, artfully conveying unspeakable violence to celluloid and certainly could be viewed as progenitors of the extreme cinema movement. We have the Italian output of the 70’s and 80’s with the likes of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò and the gory works of Lucio Fulci & Ruggero Deodato causing controversy over whether acts seen in their films may have been real or not, a laughable concern now but back in their day, understandably, people had not seen brutality of this level on film before, Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust being a prime exponent of this, with accusations of genuine animal cruelty levelled at it. These directors and their films indelibly left their mark in cinema, an influence that is still certainly felt today.

When we hit the early to mid-80’s, the UK was embroiled in the frankly ridiculous ‘Video Nasty’ witch hunt, the banning of films that pushed the envelope of taste and decency. Films the like of The Driller Killer, The Burning and Zombie Flesh Eaters, they all faced prosecution under the archaic censorship rulings of the time brought into action by no small influence of self-imposed saviour of moral decency Mary Whitehouse. Thankfully many of these films are available to view today in their intended uncut form allowing the choice to watch them to lie with the viewer as should be the case.

The dawning of the 21st century also saw a resurgence in extreme cinema, we had the likes of the increasingly provocative Takashi Miike bringing us Visitor Q, Audition and Itchi The Killer, Tom Six’s Human Centipede films also caused minor stir with their try too hard, no substance shock tactics. The New French Extremity movement courted violence with a more thoughtful art house mentality with the likes of the more contemporary slasher fare of Switchblade Romance and the very difficult to watch Basé Moi and Martyrs. The early 21st century has certainly seen the envelope pushed in respects as to what is acceptable to commit to celluloid. Films that have no other purpose than to disgust and offend and with questionable merit such as A Serbian Film and August Underground’s Mordum do raise the question, Is there a line? Those particular films I refuse to watch, I have heard of their content and poor critical response and decided I definitely have a threshold for what I personally believe is acceptable.

So what is it that draws us to these films? Is it that morbid sense of curiosity? The fact that a few actually succeed in being something more than just grotesque shock pieces and stand on their own artistic merit? I think there isn’t one encompassing answer to that question. As lovers of film people want to be challenged by what they watch and some films carry a message through the extreme imagery, Martyrs is a great example of this with its horror movie sensibility to that age old question of what comes after death. It’s certainly a divisive and wide ranging category of film that isn’t for everyone and will continue to enrage, disgust, prompt discussion and court controversy for years to come.