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Episode 331 - A Quiet Place (2018)

Emily Blunt is one of those actresses that is able to jump back and forth between Oscar award type films and genre. With a wide range of science fiction, horror, and thrillers under her belt, and many of them well received by fans, it doesn’t surprise one that her latest film, A Quiet Place, has received phenomenal reviews. Directed and co-written by her real life husband, John Krasinski, the movie had a great marketing campaign that drew more buzz than expected.

The Abbott family lives a truly quiet life in an apocalyptic future. In a world stalked by some sort of creatures that hunt based upon sound, people are forced to not only speak as little as possible, but also not even make a sound. Headed by Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski also starring in the film), to survive they must find and farm food while also take care of their young children. Their daughter, Regan, is deaf. In a world where danger is around every corner, her disability is both an asset and also a hindrance.

With the revival of horror in 2017 with such films as Annabelle: Creation, Get Out, Split, and It: Chapter 1, A Quiet Place has joined them as a successful box office giant while receiving critical reviews equally as positive. Dark Discussions takes a look at this little film that has turned out to be big. Thoughts and opinions are pondered.

Prior Podcast Episodes:    

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Episode 330 - Trollhunter (2010)

André Øvredal, if not a house hold name to horror fans, made a splash in 2016 with his brilliantly spooky film, The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, this theater worthy VOD release, wowed the festival circuits and then made almost everyone’s top 10 horror films of 2018 if not #1 on that list. But folks forget this Norwegian director actually made another cult classic back in 2010 entitled Trollhunter. The found footage film amazed many with its “new” monster and fantastic visual effects.

When a group of three university students set out to make a documentary on bear poaching, they stumble upon a man named Hans who many environmentalists and lawful hunters frown upon. Soon they follow Hans filming him continuously and surprised at his lengthy trips throughout the country. One night they follow him into a forest only to discover that he’s not a poacher at all, but something no one would have ever believed.

In a brilliant take on the found footage format, the movie never makes the common mistakes that such films seem to do. The action moves, the characters are real people, and the filming occurs where one would expect. When the movie was released throughout the world, it immediately became a cult classic that has consistently been on top ten lists of the cinema vérité subgenre since. Dark Discussions takes a look at this well received cult film and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 329 - Steven Soderbergh Focus: 2018's Unsane

Mostly known for big budget Hollywood films as well as Oscar nominated dramas, Steven Soderbergh is back with maybe his smallest budgeted film prior to making it big. His new genre film entitled UNSANE (2018) has an interesting if not an original trait about it. The film was filmed entirely using an iPhone making it have a distinct yet a very professional look. Such has been done in independent film before including award winning director Sean Baker’s film TANGERINE (2015). For UNSANE, the movie turns from a quirky arthouse film to a straight out horror film by its end.

White collar professional, Sawyer Valentini, lives with the fair of being found by her stalker. Originally from Boston, she moves to a small city in Pennsylvania hoping to move on with her life. Yet, depression and fear follow her everywhere. Looking for support, she is tricked into voluntarily committing herself to a corrupt mental health institution. Unfortunately for her, David Strine, her stalker, may have found her whereabouts. Has he worked his way into employment to become part of the facility’s staff? Or maybe is it all in her mind?

With its curious camera angles, the movie leaves viewers wondering whether our lead protagonist is actually insane, imagining things, or just a troubled woman who has been created because of unfortunate circumstances? With many timely issues present, including the care for the mentally ill, insurance fraud, and the MeToo issue, some may wonder if Soderbergh is trying to say something more with the film even with its simple gimmick and midnight movie aspects. Dark Discussions takes a look at the film and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 328 - Marvel's Jessica Jones

As folks know, Marvel’s extensive universe includes comics, movies, and television shows. Specifically the Marvel Cinematic Universe for television (or simply Marvel Television) includes a number of shows that seem to cross over multiple networks. But Netflix has a handful that includes a group of characters that have become the superhero team, The Defenders. One such character, Jessica Jones, is an interesting personality as her comic back-story includes being an ex-superhero who now decides to do private eye work.

Though having super strength, Jessica Jones chooses to work for Alias Investigations, her one-woman outfit that habitually works on extramarital affair cases. Helping her along, she has her sister, Trish Walker, a former child starlet which now officiates an investigative radio talk show. During the two seasons of the show, people who have haunted Jessica return to cause havoc not only within her own life but throughout New York City. Jessica must use her investigating instincts to stop the antagonists while also keeping her own personal demons in check.

Krysten Ritter, best known prior for her role in Breaking Bad, stars as the eponymous lead. The show brings this lesser known Marvel character to the screen with mostly positive reviews. The 22 episodes include large supporting roles by known talent including Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Rebecca De Mornay, and David Tennant. Dark Discussions Podcast takes a look at this unconventional “superhero” show and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 327 - The Strangers Retrospective

Home invasions have been a standard plot device for films in the thriller and horror genre for some time. From such mainstream fair as WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967) all the way to cult movies like WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979 and 2006), genre films find ways to re-invent what could turn into a very tired subgenre. Yet both the New French Extreme wave of movies (INSIDE (2007), THEM (2006)) plus those with a nihilistic design (FUNNY GAMES (1997 and 2007)) have made such films fresh yet leaving viewers with no hope. In 2008, THE STRANGERS, starring Liv Tyler, became an immediate cult classic while pulling a large box office.

After attending a wedding, late that evening Kristen and James arrive at James’ family’s vacation home. When their night ends with a disagreement, a young woman appears on their doorstep asking for someone that doesn’t live there. A bit odd since the home is not near many other residences, the two are surprised when the girl knocks on their door a second time. Soon a group of unknown assailants begin to harass the two leaving them to fight for their very lives.

Ten years later, a sequel was released in March 2018. The movie brings back the iconic villains of the original film. Why did it take so long for a follow-up movie for what turned out to be a very successful film? Dark Discussions takes a look at the original and its sequel and give their thoughts on the two movies and the original’s legacy.

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Episode 326 - Red Sparrow (2018)

Released by Scribner in 2013, former CIA agent Jason Matthews first novel received much attention and praise. Reviewers felt it was a throwback to John le Carré’s best selling spy thrillers. Its realistic portrayal of the espionage trade while avoiding clichés opened up many readers’ eyes. By 2014, the novel won a number of awards, including much prestige for being a debut novel. Interestingly, even before the book’s debut, the movie rights were sold for seven figures. And now on March 2nd, 2018, that movie has been released as a starring vehicle for superstar Jennifer Lawrence.

Russian ballerina, Dominika Egorova, has an unfortunate accident that ruins her dancing career. With no guarantee to receive long-term disability, she is worried that her disabled mother will land on the streets with no home. Her uncle however offers her an option to help the Russian intelligence department in exchange for financial support. When things go wrong, she is indentured as a Red Sparrow, a type of Russian spy operative. This leads to a world she never thought existed. In a desperate play, she decides to break her own moral code in order to get out. But more importantly, will she be able to figure out a way to save her mother from homelessness and the government that was supposed to protect her?

The movie is directed by Francis Lawrence who worked with Jennifer Lawrence in the final three Hunger Game movies. The screen adaption was written by Justin Haythe known for such films as Revolutionary Road and A Cure For Wellness. The cast also includes a lineup of some very fine supporting members including Joel Edgerton, Charlotte Rampling, and Jeremy Irons. Dark Discussions Podcast takes a look at this throwback spy thriller and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 325 - The Ritual (2018)

David Bruckner has had an interesting path to his feature length directorial debut. He’s been in three horror “anthologies” where his segments have actually been considered the strongest. The Signal was a curious zombie-like film from 2007 and his piece was the most intense to the point where critics said they wished the film kept that tone straight to the end. In V/H/S, his tale, Amateur Night, was a boy’s night out gone wrong as throwback drive-in cinema at its best. And in Southbound, his segment The Accident, is always noted as a high point of that movie. Now in 2018, The Ritual, a very different type of horror film than anything he has ever done prior, arrived with a bang on Netflix.

Five Brits get together to plan a guy’s trip away. When a robbery causes the death of one of them, Luke, Phil, Hutch, and Dom head to Sweden in tribute to him. After a long hike in the mountains, Dom twists his leg leading them to believe they will not be able to make it back before dark. Using a map, they decide to take a short cut through a deep forest that would cut the journey in half. As they begin their trek back, each soon discovers they are in danger.

Based on the book by British author Adam Nevill, adapted to the screen by tv scriptor Joe Barton, David Bruckner brings a dark and scary tale to screen. The film made its debut late last year at the Toronto International Film Festival and caused a bidding war between Lionsgate and Netflix. Receiving fairly good reviews, the movie has already been listed as one of this year’s best early genre releases. Dark Discussions Podcast takes a look at the movie and gives their thoughts.

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Episode 324 - Annihilation (2018)

There has been some pretty intense science fiction films, specifically ones that really make you think. Classics include Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Solaris. However most recently films such as Under the Skin and the Vanishing Waves have gained cult followings. Alex Garland joined the fray with what many call a masterpiece, Ex Machina, from 2014. He’s back four years later with his second directorial effort, Annihilation, based off the high concept science fiction novel written by Jeff VanderMeer. The novel, part of a trilogy entitled Southern Reach, won many prestigious awards which garnered it much attention.

Natalie Portman stars as Lena, a college professor, whose husband has gone missing after leaving for a black ops mission. A year later he reappears, unable to remember what happened. After an unexplained medical emergency, the two are sent to a government outpost along the Florida panhandle. There, a mysterious area phenomenon known as the shimmer has transpired. Lena discovers that prior to the return of her husband from a mission within, no one had ever come back. Her husband, now comatose, remains in intensive care at the facility. When a new group of scientists plan an excursion into what is now called Area X, Lena joins them to learn what lies beyond the “shimmer.”

Alex Garland prior to directing films had written such scripts as 28 Days Later, Dredd, and Sunshine. With his latest film, the movie has gained critical praise and admiration from many. After test screens showed the film to be confusing to audiences, Paramount decided to sell the international rights to the film to Netflix while keeping the theater rights for the U.S.A. and China. The Dark Discussions co-hosts take a look at this polarizing film and give their opinions.

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Episode 318 - 2017 Review

We are already four percent into 2018 and some good films have come out. But last year was a heck of a year too. Dark Discussions puts together their review of all that was good and bad in 2017. Included is the consideration of 75 different films that were worthy enough to be considered as a top 20 film for genre and horror films.

Each of your five co-hosts put together a list of movies they thought were good enough to be seen by audiences. This included both a list of horror films and a list of other speculative fiction films. Afterwards we then combined them and came up with Dark Discussions definitive lists of the best of 2017. Some obvious films like Wonder Woman and Get Out appear but also little known films like The Evil Within, Radius, and Berlin Syndrome were considered.

Also included are some of our listener choices and what they felt were the best of the year. And don’t forget our top and worst scenes, scream queens, breakout star, and anything else you can think of. Dark Discussions wraps up last year in a nice tight bow and gives their listeners a good many films to go out and search for.

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Episode 316 - 2018 Preview

With January 2018 underway, it is time to visit what is coming this year to cinemas, video-on-demand platforms, as well as those genre films that are going straight to disc. Last year, horror seemed to dominate genre and there were a lot of great flicks. This year once again there seems to be a lot of great ones coming. Plus also more superhero flicks. Reboots and remakes and sequels are also arriving too.

Dark Discussions once again is back with their look forward to the new year and which films seem to interest them most. Some of the more high profile flicks spoken of include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Annihilation, the two X-Men films, Slender Man, The Nun, and Game Night.

Some other flicks talked about include Fashionista, The Bad Man, the critically praised Norwegian film, Thelma, and a few sequels to Dead Snow and Halloween. And then at the very end we list off other films and talk about some of the latest news about movies and genre cinema.

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Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews Volume 007

Welcome to the latest edition of Halloween Boutique Psychotronic Reviews – a podcast that reviews and critiques films released by boutique labels that have taken old and sometimes forgotten midnight movies and re-releases them in special editions where the quality of the picture is fully remastered, usually from onetime lost or privately owned negatives or prints.

This month I review four films and one television show. The movies include the 1987 slasher Slaughterhouse, the 2011 faux-grindhouse film The Disco Exorcist, the 1998 psychological thriller Jaded (starring Carla Gugino), the 2015 Japanese science fiction anime series Valkyrie Drive Mermaid, and the 1979 science fiction slasher film The Dark.

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Episode 259 - Patient Seven (The Critique)

Last week Dark Discussions interviewed director Danny Draven and actor Dan Lench of the movie Patient Seven. We learned a bit about the horror anthology and how the various shorts were award winning movies from the convention circuit. After being scooped up by the producers, a wraparound story was built around these films creating a cohesive movie.

A highly renowned doctor comes to a sanitarium to interview seven patients for a new book he is planning. Each patient is a very unique behavioral health case. As the psychiatrist's unconventional techniques become known, the orderlies become concerned and the patients become more enraged. Yet there may be a truth behind each patient's tale that not even a sanitarium can keep hidden.

Patient Seven encompasses seven award winning shorts with an eighth wraparound story that ties it all together. Zombies, vampires, serial killers, ghosts, demons, and murder fill out the almost two hour runtime. With its great score, its dark tone, and each tales unique twists, the movie has been getting rave reviews and has been considered one of the best horror anthologies to come along in some time. Dark Discussions does their critique and review of this new film.

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Episode 258 - Patient Seven (The Interviews)

Horror anthologies seem to be films that horror fans either love or hate. Many can be disjointed, have too many tonal shifts, or simply aren't any good. But there has been a huge resurgence of them recently led by such films as The ABC's of Death and V/H/S. A new film entitled Patient Seven suddenly appeared on VOD services and quickly became one of the top horror movies rented and viewed on such places as iTunes.

With seven individual stories with an eighth story as the wraparound tale, the film is quite lengthy and yet flows pretty smoothly. The cast includes some fairly well known folks including Alfie Allen (of Game of Thrones), actress Amy Smart, and genre favorite Michael Ironsides.

Additionally, the movie has actor Dan Lench, a star of last year's science fiction film, Circle, playing a pivotal role that is completely different than anything he's played before. Along with Dan Lench, Dark Discussions interviews one of the directors, Danny Draven, who also edited and put together the upcoming disc release. Get ready for part one of our two part episode of Patient Seven. This episode focuses on the people that worked on the film.