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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2018) #37!

It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Jason Coyle, Ronan Doyle and Graham Day to discuss the week in film. As usual, we talk about the top ten and the new releases, as well as what we’ve watched this week. In this episode, Graham gives us a peak at upcoming cinematic delights including First Man and Mandy, Ronan discusses the underrated emotional appeal of Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again, and Jay expounds upon his controversial “automatic four star film theory” as it relates to directors like Jeremy Saulnier and S. Craig Zahler.

We also talk about the best ways to celebrate a cinematic Halloween in Dublin, looking at both the Season of the Witch at the Lighthouse and the Horrorthon at the IFI, discuss the recently scheduled release date of The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, and the revelation that Russian bots have been stirring dissent around Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

The top ten:

  1. The Little Stranger
  2. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation
  3. Mile 22
  4. Christopher Robin
  5. The Nun
  6. Crazy Rich Asians
  7. A Simple Favour
  8. Black ’47
  9. The House With A Clock In Its Walls
  10. Night School

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

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Non-Review Review: Hold the Dark

“Do you have any idea what’s outside these windows? How black it gets?”

An enlightening piece of work.

In the American consciousness, the frontier is a haunted place.

In some ways, it is a concept distinct to the United States, at least in contrast to Europe. The boundaries within Europe were established centuries ago; although they might shift and bend, the contours of the continent have been known to the people who inhabited it for millennia. In contrast, to the settlers who arrived from Europe, the North American frontier was a mystery and an enigma. The frontier is distinct a border space. A border implies a point of collision that might be crossed, the neatly delineated boundary between one place and another.

Let Bisons be Bisons.

The frontier is something entirely different. It represents the edge of reason, and limit of what is knowable. To reach the end of the frontier is to reach the end of “the West.” In geographical terms, off the western shore of the North American continent lies “the East.” In more abstract terms, the American frontier is an imaginary space rather than a literal one. After all, Jeremy Saulnier’s previous film – Green Room – suggested that the frontier could be found somewhere  surprisingly close to urbanity, only a few hours away from the familiar comforts of Portland.

Hold the Dark takes place in a decidedly more remote environment, against the snow backdrops of Alaska. Saulnier goes to great lengths to illustrate the isolation of that environment, paying particular attention to how long it takes Russell Core to reach the small Alaskan town that serves as the starting point of the story before venturing out into the real wilderness. At another point, Vernon Slone stops by an old hostel on his travels. Asked for his point of origin, he’s informed that there was no road connecting the two places. “Not directly,” he clarifies.

Shedding some light on the matter.

As with the snow-covered western wilderness in Wind River, there is a sense that Hold the Dark unfolds against the very limit of the American frontier, at the point where the continent has ceased to provide for the settlers and instead has become something harsh and unforgiving. It is a place that has been settled by humans, but is perhaps untouched by humanity. If Green Room allowed Saulnier to explore the vipers coiled underneath familiar rocks, then Hold the Dark is a story about the animals that hunt at the very edge of civilisation.

Green Room was effectively a cynical and grim take on the familiar horror plot that warned of the dangers lurking off the backroads, just out of sight. Hold the Dark is the story of a hunt for a dangerous predator in a harsh environment. In both films, the monster looks very familiar.

Mask appeal.

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Non-Review Review: Green Room

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2016.

Green Room is a masterful artisanally-crafted suspense thriller.

Writer and director Jeremy Saulnier crafts a loving tribute to seventies horror that feels like a truer successor to the “backwoods horror” genre than many contemporary remakes and reimaginings. Following a punk band named The Ain’t Rights that stumble into a tense stand-off with a bunch of neo-nazis in rural Oregon, Green Room is almost aggressively old-school in its horror sensibilities. It is tense and claustrophobic, paranoid and unsettling. Saulnier has a masterful understanding of the genre and its expectations, crafting a pitch perfect homage.

greenroom

Green Room is a very canny piece of work, but never in a manner that is distracting. The film is wry without being ironic, more arch than subversive. Appropriately enough, given its punk protagonists, the movie’s hints of cynicism about its genre and set-up bely a more earnest appreciation of the form. Green Room is a classic and conventional horror film about a bunch of kids who took a wrong turn, and it is utterly unapologetic about that. Instead, it commits to providing one of the most visceral traditional horror experiences in recent memory.

Green Room is a nasty piece of work. And is all the better for it.

greenroom6

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