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CinÉireann – Issue 6 (April 2018)

The latest issue of CinÉireann has just been released.

It’s a really great read, with Conor Murphy continuing his exploration of cinematic education, Jay Coyle looking at the filmography of Michael Inside director Frank Berry, and Stacy Grouden examining the elaborate worlds of Wes Anderson. Very much worth a look, whether you’re interested in Irish or international film.

I also have a piece in there contextualising The Cured as part of the broader trend of recent apocalyptic horrors invested in the idea of the end of a world that has yet to accept its passing; films like Logan and shows like The Leftovers.

You can read CinÉireann as a digital magazine directly. You can even subscribe and get future issues delivered to you directly. Or click the picture below.

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Non-Review Review: The Cured

This film was seen as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival 2018.

The biggest problem with The Cured might be that the film bites off more than it can chew.

At least in their modern post-Romero phase, zombies have often been a tool of social allegory. They are a potent metaphor for any number of familiar anxieties; unchecked consumerism in Dawn of the Dead, the working class in The Land of the Dead, an insurgent enemy population in 28 Weeks Later. In many ways, The Cured feels like a logical extension for this. The story about society trying to claw its way back from the horrors of zombie apocalypse, The Cured is a bold and ambitious piece of horror movie social commentary.

A population of rehabilitated zombies raises any number of obvious parallels in the modern world. The Cured plays with a number of these ideas, using zombies as a metaphor for class anxieties and for a politically subjugated (and literally dehumanised) political population. However, the most potent metaphor at the heart of the story is to do with criminal rehabilitation and social reintegration, the challenge of how society embraces or shuns those who have committed horrible acts but are also deemed to have served their time.

Writer and director David Freyne explores these ideas in a charged and playful manner, balancing the expectations of zombie storytelling against the backdrop of a broader political allegory. Indeed, The Cured arguably suffers from a surplus of good ideas, with enough material to sustain a television miniseries crammed into a lean ninety-five minute runtime.

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The X-Files – Hungry (Review)

This November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the seventh season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Harsh Realm.

Hungry is an underrated episode of The X-Files.

Although it was the third episode of the season to air, it was actually the first episode produced, allowing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson to ease themselves back into the demanding shooting schedule. As with Vince Gilligan’s script for Unusual Suspects, the idea was to write an episode that required as little of Mulder and Scully as possible. However, rather than building Hungry around an established member (or members) of the supporting cast, Gilligan decides to introduce a new character and make them the focus of the episode.

"I am sharkboy, hear me roar..."

“I am sharkboy, hear me roar…”

Hungry is not quite as experimental as X-Cops, but there is something deliciously subversive about telling a “monster of the week” story from the perspective of the monster. Gilligan is arguably building upon the work done by David Amann in Terms of Endearment, but Hungry is very much its own story. It pushes Mulder and Scully to the very edge of the narrative in a way that distorts many of the underlying assumptions about what The X-Files is and how it is supposed to work.

Hungry is proof that The X-Files still has legitimately great stories in it, even if the seventh season has a decidedly funereal atmosphere.

Brains...

Brains…

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Star Trek: Enterprise – Impulse (Review)

Next year, Star Trek is fifty years old. We have some special stuff planned for that, but – in the meantime – we’re reviewing all of Star Trek: Enterprise this year as something of a prequel to that anniversary. This August, we’re doing the third season. Check back daily for the latest review.

Impulse is a Star Trek zombie story.

It might sound absurd, but it works very well. After all, the Star Trek franchise rooted in pulp space horror, with extended stretches of the original show portraying space as haunted. In some ways, Impulse could be seen as a logical extension of Regeneration from late in the second season. Both episodes are very much modelled on the classic zombie horror movie formula, both deal with how traditional Star Trek morality applies to that formula, and both are even directed by veteran Star Trek producer David Livingston, who brings a nice kinetic feel to the adventures.

Dead space...

Dead space…

Impulse works a lot better than it really should. There are some plotting issues created by the secondary storyline grafted into the episode, and the show doesn’t quite develop its Vulcan themes as well as it might. However, it compensates for these issues with an incredible sense of energy and momentum. The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise might be the first season of Star Trek to be seriously facing cancellation in decades, but it had an entirely new lease on life.

Impulse is a bold and exciting piece of television, one that feel vital and urgent. It recaptures some of the appeal of the new status quo that had been somewhat squandered by Extinction and Rajiin.

Reed shirt...

Reed shirt…

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Non-Review Review: World War Z

World War Z is a lesson in compromise, a Frankenstein’s monster stitched together out of necessity with the lines very clearly showing. It goes this way and then that way, never really sure where it wants to be in the next act, save that it’s a safe bet there might be zombies. World War Z isn’t as bad as it might have been, but the problem is that it feels like it’s trying so hard to find an ending that it never bothers to excel. It’s not that World War Z is bad, it’s a competently made thriller that works as well as it can with a script that spent most of production in triage. The problem is that it’s never bold enough to do anything genuinely exciting.

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde...

Pitting our best man against the zombie horde…

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Non-Review Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a very curious film – a weird genre fusion that feels like it really shouldn’t work, but with just barely enough charm to pull it off. The movie hinges on the wonderfully crazy idea of blending zombie horror with romantic comedy. Drawing from the book of the same name, the film is light enough and fast enough that it never overstays its welcome. There are times when it overplays its hand, when it threatens to descend into sentimental nonsense, and when the two genres seem to threaten to smother one another. However, it has enough charm and wit that it never veers too far off course before correcting itself.

At its best, it demonstrates that there’s life in these two old genres yet.

Uncanny.

Uncanny.

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Non-Review Review: Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead is a fairly strange beast. Something of a black comedy spin-off from George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the film is a ridiculously campy exploration of trashy low-rent horror… and yet somehow has been picked up and embraced by popular culture. After all, this is the movie that introduced the idea that zombies weren’t just satiated by consuming large quantities of meat (most often from humans) – this was the film which introduced the idea of zombies stumbling forward, repeatedly droning “braaaaains!” It’s a concept which has been so throughly incorporated into pop culture’s definition of zombie (although it’s rarely the case, we still expect it and recognise it), so it seems strange that it came from a spoof.

No bones about it...

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