Author Archives: Daniel Lackey

November 27

BITS 2016: The Sublet

Filmmakers John Ainslie (director/co-writer) and Alyson Richards (co-writer) give the venerable Haunting of Hill House formula a vigorous workout in The Sublet. Joanna (Tianna Nori) and Geoff (Mark Matechuk) move with their toddler son into a sublet apartment whose eccentric and reclusive sublessor they never meet. Joanna takes an instant dislike to her new home, frustrated by […]

November 23

BITS 2016: Holy Hell 

Horror and humor have often formed an uneasy alliance, taking many forms from subdued stomach-churning satire to outrageous gross-out comedy. With Holy Hell, writer/director/star Ryan LePlante delivers a specimen of the latter. LaPlante takes on the role of Father Augustus Bane, a mild-mannered priest in a bad neighborhood who does his best to live his life […]

November 22

BITS 2016: Capture Kill Release

Oh look! Another found-footage movie. Directed by Nick McAnulty and Brian Allan Stewart, Capture Kill Release follows a young couple played by—and named after—Jennifer Fraser and Farhang Ghajar as they document their plan to abduct, torture, and murder a completely random stranger, which is apparently Jen’s lifelong dream. Capture Kill Release doesn’t bring much to the […]

January 25

The Boy

The month of January has a reputation as a dumping ground for theatrical releases the studios don’t have much faith in. In the case of The Boy, the latest directorial effort from William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside), you can see why. Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) stars as Greta Evans, a young American on the […]

December 08

Goodnight Mommy

Humans seem to possess an innate aversion to change. As adults, we understand we must fight stagnation, but children rely on routine and the familiar for comfort and learning. To a child, even the most subtle shifts or recontextualization can become a source of terror, particularly when they threaten said child’s sense of safety. In Goodnight […]

November 29

BITS 2015: The Dark Stranger

Horror fiction often is at its best when we can associate its fantastic monsters with our own concerns, frustrations, and anxieties. But outright allegory requires something of a deft touch to keep its subtext from becoming a sermon. Case in point: The Dark Stranger, the début feature from writer/director Chris Trebilcock. Katie Findlay stars as Leah […]

November 23

BITS 2015: She Who Must Burn

Legendary Canadian independent filmmaker Larry Kent takes on extreme Christian fanaticism in his latest effort. She Who Must Burn details the conflict between Angela (Sarah Smyth), a family-planning counselor single-handedly keeping her small-town clinic open after the state pulls its funding, and the zealous Baarker family, led by Jeremiah (Shane Twerdun, who also co-wrote), who blame the […]

October 20

Crimson Peak

Like any storyteller, visionary filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has a set of themes and ideas that recur throughout his body of work. Children, lacking at least one biological parent if not both, forced to confront dangerous circumstances intertwined with secrets from a past not wholly dead. It’s easy to see how these fit into del […]

September 15

TIFF 2015: Homesick

Charlotte (Ine Marie Wilmann) teaches dance to young children in Oslo. One day, a man (Simon J. Berger) visits her at her studio. “I just wanted to have a look at where you work,” he tells her, but he soon turns hostile: “I don’t quite understand what you’re up to. You were sneaking around my […]

September 14

TIFF 2015: The Waiting Room

There used to be a country in southeastern Europe named Yugoslavia. It was part of the communist eastern bloc, and when that bloc fell, so too did Yugoslavia. Armed conflicts raged across those lands for the decade following. Six states now exist where once was only one, and their history has not been quiet. The Waiting […]

September 13

TIFF 2015: Rock the Box

Rock the Box begins with statistics: in 2014, electronic dance music–EDM for short–accounted for $6.2 billion in revenues, almost half of what the entire music industry made that year. As in too many fields, women are disproportionately underrepresented: DJMag’s 2014 list its top 100 DJs included only two women. One of the up-and-coming female DJs looking to […]

September 09

TIFF 2015: Portal to Hell!!!

In the interest of pedantry, I should mention that the titular Portal to Hell!!! doesn’t actually lead to hell but “Riley,” or R’lyeh, the ancient underwater city home to dread Cthulhu. But that’s not the point. The point is that said portal has been opened in the basement of the apartment building where Jack (Roddy Piper) serves as superintendent. […]

August 25

Queen of Earth

If Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth has a cornerstone, a centerpiece, a central scene that sums up its entire experience, it’s one that comes about fifteen minutes before the end of the film. Protagonist Catherine (Elisabeth Moss), fresh off her father’s suicide and longtime boyfriend James’s (Kentucker Audley) betrayal, has joined her friend Virginia (Katherine […]

July 22

The Gallows

The world may not exactly need another horror movie about mean, unpleasant teenagers picked off one by one by an unstoppable, possibly supernatural antagonist, but Blumhouse (the low-budget production house behind the Insidious, The Conjuring, and Sinister franchises) gives us one anyway. In The Gallows, a trio of high-school friends run afoul of a murderous force while trying to […]

June 03

The Nightmare

Let me tell you about something that used to happen to me–not a common occurrence, something I’d experience maybe three, four times a year. I’d awaken suddenly from sleep, lying on my back, staring upward–and unable to move. I could breathe, and I’m pretty sure I could look around and blink, but otherwise I’d be […]

May 26

Poltergeist

The Hollywood remake factory strikes again. But director Gil Kenan (City of Ember, Monster House) and producers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert (Evil Dead) have a particularly tough row to hoe when it comes to reimagining Poltergeist. As intense as the original is by 1982 standards, it’s one of the few straight-up horror films of the era […]

May 04

The Duke of Burgundy

Writer/director Peter Strickland turns his eye to sexuality in the follow-up to his celebrated Berberian Sound Studio. The Duke of Burgundy chronicles the relationship between Cynthia (Sidse Babbett Knudsen) and Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna), lovers and entomologists who specialize in butterflies (of which the titular Duke is in fact a European species), a relationship with a strong BDSM […]

April 27

Hot Docs 2015: Radical Grace

In April of 2012, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued the findings of a three-year doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR), a support network for American Catholic nuns. The document was heavily critical of the LCWR, and accused the group of being influenced by “certain radical feminist themes […]

April 26

Hot Docs 2015: Western

Documentarians Bill and Turner Ross begin Western by informing us that for generations, the border towns of Eagle Pass (on the Texas side) and Piedras Negras (on the Mexico side) have been joined in friendship, only separated by the Rio Grande. An important dimension of this alliance between two cattle towns is trade. Fifth-generation rancher Martín […]

April 23

Hot Docs 2015: The Amina Profile

Over the course of five months in 2011, an aspiring Syrian-American writer named Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omari gained international recognition as the author of A Gay Girl in Damascus, a blog detailing her experiences as an out lesbian in a country torn by civil war against a repressive regime. On the sixth of June, […]