Has to be said, I’m becoming quite a fan of relatively unknown horror director Ti West, following the double hits of the unsettling House of the Devil and the gentler The Inkeepers. This latest offering sees him turning to the found-footage / religious cult sub genres to deliver another gradual build up experience. A film crew working for an underground TV channel travel to a remote island to report on a religious cult, following the revelation that their photographer’s sister has started living there.
This competently acted, slow burning thriller has plenty of shaky hand-held cameras, tense interviews with the locals, and a stand-out performance from Gene Jones as the worshipped cult leader referred to as ‘father’. Although the material is very familiar if you’ve seen the likes of Red State or Martha Marcy May Marlene, this was still done well and offers the viewer both sides of the coin; a very attractive existence as well as something much more sinister. The closing moments were tough viewing and pretty disturbing (…the baby) and left me shaken but also impressed with what Ti West had delivered, managing to pull the rug out from under me yet again.
I’d have really liked it to have gone a bit deeper into the inner-workings of the cult and their motivations, but to say any more would spoil it, so basically – this is another decent offering from one of the more interesting voices in horror.
I had a feeling this would happen. When I originally watched this movie, I wasn’t that impressed. Perhaps I was expected something else, or I had a very cynical head going in. For the next movie by acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino, it went in directions I as a self-confessed Tarantino fan hadn’t expected, or could appreciate. His trade mark clever dialogue is for the most part, in either German or French with subtitles. And I couldn’t enjoy the long drawn out scenes of talking leading up to violence. I don’t know what it was … but having sat through it a second time now, I fully understand what Tarantino was doing, creating some of the most tense scenes I have witnessed in a long time, and the violence, when it comes, grabs you by the throat. It was very bold of him to make the dialogue authentic to the setting, and along with his very believable, emotionally engrossing characterisation – I was gripped.
Even if Quentin Tarantino’s brand of pop-culture influenced entertainment has ceased being the ‘it’ word ever since the mostly tiresome Kill Bill Vol.2, I still hope that this will deliver where so much before it has failed. Please Quentin, give us back that spark you had with Reservoir Dogs & Pulp Fiction … in a World War 2 setting!
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