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    “BENEATH” (Movie Review)

    BENEATH is a movie that plays best if you don’t take it too literally. That may seem an odd thing to say about a flick in which a killer fish chows down on hapless teenagers, but then most nature-amok low-budgeters aren’t directed by Larry Fessenden, who never metaphor he didn’t like.

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    “COUNTDOWN” (New York Asian Film Festival Review)

    As calculated for Asian/American crossover youth appeal as a movie can be, COUNTDOWN is nonetheless a sprightly little slice of exploitation that delivers its nasty goods within a tight running time of 90 minutes and change—a relief at a time when a lot of Far East cinema seems bound to extend itself at all costs to and past the two-hour mark.

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    “PACIFIC RIM” (Movie Review)

    In this era when big summer FX spectacles seem to be produced by accountants as often as filmmakers, the news that Guillermo del Toro, who has brought more soul to genre cinema than anyone else in the 2000s, was tackling a monsters-vs.-robots epic was cause for celebration. And now that PACIFIC RIM has arrived, it puts del Toro in the odd position of having outdone everyone but himself.

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    “ABSENCE” (Movie Review)

    As found footage becomes increasingly ubiquitous within independent horror—dare I say, more than zombies—I find myself less and less concerned with any justification for why anyone is still filming. It is after all, an accepted rule or necessity of this type of fiction. The why seems increasingly irrelevant, especially since most often the answer lies in budget. So it’s nice for a spell that both the general concept of, and the reason main character Evan is filming his post-trauma sister in, ABSENCE is intriguing. It is not nice, and ultimately frustrating however that Evan may be the most grating “never-stop-filming” character in all of found footage.

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    Blu-ray Review: “STOKER”, A Fantastic Coming-of-Age Film

    A special breed, the best coming-of-age films are awash in cinematic power that evoke visceral remembrance of adolescence and a time when every emotion was true elation, the most fluttering of butterflies or absolutely gut-wrenching. It’s in adolescence when everything feels a matter of life and death, making this extremity of feeling ripe for exploration through genre. In that sense, and in many others, Park Chan-wook’s first English language feature STOKER is perfect. It’s lead, the young India (Mia Wasikowska) on the cusp of womanhood, navigating a journey of heightened senses, family mystery and eventual murder, is a warped, lurid portrait of coming-of-age. She faces loss, of both a loved one and an idol, and gains herself in the process. In the end, India boasts a sense of self, is assured of her body and is equipped with a thrilling drive.

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    “100 BLOODY ACRES” (Movie Review)

    100 BLOODY ACRES isn’t a straight horror film, despite what the title may lead you to believe. It is, however, a delightful and decidedly Australian comedy in which the characters find themselves in a rather horrific situation, with the resulting shenanigans strewn with bursts of fun gore.

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    “THE CONJURING” (Movie Review)

    Real, palpable dread. In THE CONJURING, it is thick and ever present, and takes on many forms. It is a doll, it is a door. It is a hand clap, it is a spirit. It is malevolence in the air, it is the chill from a dark basement. It is accursed land. It is, eventually, the reveal of director James Wan’s full capabilities as a master of horror. Like INSIDIOUS before it—although miles ahead of that already splendid exercise in shoulder shudders—THE CONJURING is special because Wan, as a filmmaker is. Here, he has proven an innate understanding of the eerie and the frightening.

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    “MANIAC” (Movie Review)

    The two things that set 1981’s MANIAC apart from its murder-movie brethren—Joe Spinell’s performance, and the way William Lustig captured late-’70s Manhattan at its seedy worst—can literally never be duplicated, which posed a challenge to anyone attempting an honorable remake. So it’s one of the new film’s achievements that it showcases a very different lead actor and setting while still feeling like MANIAC.

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    “WORLD WAR Z” (Movie Review)

    WORLD WAR Z is an often exciting action epic, and a pretty gripping saga of one man’s attempt to survive amidst, and perhaps find a solution for, a global catastrophe. What it is not is a zombie movie that will satisfy some die-hard fans, or a close adaptation of Max Brooks’ modern-classic novel, so some adjustment of expectations is in order to best enjoy it.

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