The Menu

The Menu is a horror/satire/comedy that’s ultra-sharp and immensely entertaining. If you’re looking for a great movie to see in the cinema this week then there’s no question, this should be your choice.

Young couple Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) travel to a remote island to eat at the most exclusive restaurant. They are joined by a group of very wealthy individuals who don’t need to think twice about the cost to eat at such a restaurant where legendary chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu. This isn’t your ordinary menu and the surprises just keep on coming. What begins as a pretentious 10 course meal slowly turns dark and sinister with each new course.

I haven’t seen food look so delicious onscreen since the Hannibal TV show. The attention to detail is incredible. So expertly crafted you may end up coming out of The Menu craving some food. It’s an unpredictable horror that never lets up, and keeps you constantly on your toes. With a chilling performance from Ralph Fiennes as a brilliant chef. He commands every scene he’s in and has a formidable onscreen presence. Put alongside Anya Taylor-Joy and it’s the perfect recipe for an excellent satirical horror. From the moment the guests arrive at the remote island, things feel unsettling and everything about the meal gradually becomes more and more disturbing until it descends into a full blown horror movie.

The Menu has a brilliantly original script for a horror comedy. In the same month we’ve had two great satirical thrillers targeting the ultra-wealthy, between this and Triangle of Sadness. All I’ll say is there’s clearly an audience for this topic and I for one would love to see more of this. Although The Menu and Triangle of Sadness both have completely different stories, they have similar themes running throughout them. So if you enjoyed one, you’ll enjoy the other, seek them out and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Menu definitely won’t be to everyone’s tastes, horror comedies certainly aren’t for everyone. If you’re still unsure, the trailer gives you an idea without spoiling anything. It’s gripping, shocking and very entertaining. The Menu is exclusively in cinemas so don’t miss the chance to see it on the big screen. Highly recommended and a must see for those with a dark sense of humour.

★★★★☆

Watcher

Watcher (not to be confused with Netflix’s The Watcher) is a horror/thriller that captures the real life nightmare of a woman being stalked.

Julia (Maika Monroe) leaves New York and moves to Bucharest with her new husband, Francis (Karl Glusman). She is immediately plunged into a state of unease when she sees a stranger watching her in another apartment building across the street. Every time she looks over she sees him standing there staring back. Everywhere she goes she feels like she’s constantly being watched. No matter what she can’t shake the feeling and with news reports coming in of a serial killer murdering women in the area she can’t help but feel this stranger watching her is somehow connected to the killings.

Watcher feels like a movie inspired by Hitchcock’s Rear Window though it’s not a plagiarised version (yeah I’m looking at you Disturbia). It’s got the atmosphere and the continuous sense of unease running throughout. The story itself doesn’t offer any shocking twists or anything deeply original to the genre but what it does have is this incredibly disturbing sense that Julia is being stalked and unable to prove it. The feelings of paranoia grow and grow until they plague Julia and begin to affect every aspect of her life. A lot of people out there, especially women will be able to relate to this. Julia’s terror at the feeling of being stalked but to have everyone around her think she’s exaggerating or making it up. It’s takes a genuine fear and builds a psychological/horror movie around it. We’ve seen Maika Monroe give a great performance in The Guest and It Follows and she is giving another stellar performance here too. As Watcher relies so much on building tension and suspense, a strong performance was needed from the lead and Maika Monroe was perfect for the role.

For a first feature length movie by director Chloe Okuno it’s a good start and I’d be interested to see what she comes out with next. Perhaps it relies a little too much on atmosphere and suspense, and its climax is a little disappointing but this is still a horror movie worth your time. Recommended for anyone in the mood for a psychological thriller.

★★★☆☆

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a touching tribute to Chadwick Boseman. It’s hard to imagine this franchise without him and his loss is felt throughout this sequel. Although not as good as the first Black Panther movie it’s still one of the better post Avengers: Endgame movies.

The nation of Wakanda are still in mourning over the death of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and now face a new threat. Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) must fight to protect their home against multiple threats coming their way. With other nations desperate to get their hands on some precious vibranium to a new nation making themselves known and without the Black Panther to protect Wakanda they must do whatever it takes to defend their home and people.

It’s clear everyone is still feeling the huge loss of Chadwick Boseman and this obviously created problems for the cast and crew to continue the franchise and despite everything I feel they did the best they could under the circumstances. Director Ryan Coogler made the right call not to recast T’Challa and even though his character is missed it’s paved the way for a new Black Panther to take over.

The performances from the cast are the best thing about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Letitia Wright steps up as Princess Shuri, Angela Bassett is a show stealer in every scene she’s in. Honestly the woman never gives a bad performance. We also have the return of Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Danai Gurira. All excellent characters, well written and with more room now to develop them. Wakanda Forever has more heart and deeper themes running throughout compared to some of the other rubbish being churned out in the superhero genre.

Every single comic book movie is only as good as their villain/antihero, you can have an amazing movie with a perfect cast but get the villain wrong and it will suffer. Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in Black Panther was a tough act to follow and unfortunately Namor (Tenoch Huerta) didn’t quite live up to expectations. As the story progresses it eventually ends up at the big showdown. Ultimately being a giant lackluster fight scene although at least it didn’t feature a giant blue laser or some other ridiculous nonsense. The action sequences are a huge let down but everything else from the emotion, the costume designs and another exceptional score by Ludwig Göransson are the best thing about Wakanda Forever. Thankfully it’s not overloaded with endless slow-motion action sequences and messy fight scenes. It’s far more emotional than expected and you can feel the grief through it all.

A common issue that is cropping up in more and more movies, particularly superhero movies these days is the state of the CGI. The CGI in many of the Marvel and DC films seems to be getting worse with every new movie, this isn’t helped when more and more of them now rely so heavily on it. It’s difficult to single out scenes that don’t incorporate some form of special effects and sure fair enough when Black Panther has created new worlds that need to be shown with CGI fine, use it where necessary but if there’s not enough time to make it look good then more time is clearly needed to finish it. There is another film on the horizon that’s also going to feature underwater blue people and they’re going to be compared to each other, there’s no getting around that. Visual effects have improved in recent years, so when you look at a film like War For the Planet of the Apes and see where the bar is, it’s not good enough to release something beneath that level. Thor: Love and Thunder, Black Adam and now Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, as I said before either pay the VFX artists better or allow more time to make it actually look decent.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever although not as good as the first Black Panther is an entertaining sequel. You’ll enjoy it in the moment despite it being overly long. And yes, there’s a mid-credits scene that is definitely worth staying for. Recommended for the Marvel fans.

★★★☆☆

Barbarian

If you arrive at a strange house and Bill Skarsgård opens the door just run the other way and keep on running. It really has been a great year for horror movies, and Barbarian has certainly received a lot of hype. Although it didn’t quite live up to expectations if you’re looking to be scared then Barbarian will do the job.

Tess (Georgina Campbell) arrives late at night in the lashing rain to her Airbnb only to find the place is already being rented to someone else. Handsome stranger Keith (Bill Skarsgård) agrees to let Tess stay as it’s late in a dodgy neighbourhood and because he’s such a gent. Tess continues to ignore the parade of red flags and spends the night in the Airbnb and sure wouldn’t you know it, the place ain’t quite what it seems.

Here’s a horror movie that keeps you on your toes. There’s a lot going on here but despite a very promising first act, it does lose its way only to descend into another generic horror movie ending. Tess bless her but she fell into so many of the horror movie tropes I lost count. If you’re the type to internally scream every time the main character does something stupid well then you are going to be doing that for a good portion of Barbarian. You may have to restrain yourself from shouting at poor Tess to “run woman run.”

Barbarian is a film that lives up to its title with the men portrayed in this ranging from borderline creepy to absolutely monstrous. It definitely had the right idea to try something new and a lot of it works, I can’t go into too much detail as there’s already lots of spoilers online. It’s dark and twisted but doesn’t reveal everything all at once, it tunnels deeper and deeper into more disturbing themes and images and by the third act you’re guaranteed to be well and truly grossed out by that point. You’ll also get your money’s worth because it will scare you without being packed full of cheap jump scares. It’s genuinely frightening particularly everything going on in the first act.

It’s not the most horrific scary movie I’ve seen this year, that is well and truly going to Men, there’s images in that movie that I’ll never be able to unsee. Yet Barbarian is still an original horror that has done amazingly well at the box office. It’s important to have more original scary movies like this, Smile, and The Black Phone and less of tired out horror franchises, yes I’m looking at you Michael Myers. Okay sure Barbarian didn’t quite live up to my personal expectations but a lot of horror fans out there love it. The only way you’ll know for sure is to see it for yourself, highly recommended for all the horror fans.

★★★☆☆

Triangle of Sadness

Triangle of Sadness is grotesque on so many levels, it’s absolutely insane and I loved it. If you haven’t seen it already, fix that now because this is an experience not to be missed.

Celebrity couple Yaya (Charlbi Dean) and Carl (Harris Dickinson) are invited on a luxury cruise for the uber-rich. What starts as the picture perfect and most instagrammable voyage on the sea quickly turns sour and ends in the most catastrophic way possible. Now stranded on an island, they must fight for their survival. Sure who wouldn’t want to be stranded on an island with a bunch of self-centred millionaires, what could possibly go wrong in that scenario?

Triangle of Sadness is unique, fun and disgusting all at once. It doesn’t pull its punches when making fun of the model industry, the ultra-wealthy and how they’ve accumulated their wealth. It’s a satirical commentary on class and how the other half live, especially how out of touch with reality they can be. So ultimately when everything starts going catastrophically wrong you can’t help but think “ah sure don’t they kinda deserve it.”

It’s grotesque in how some of these people end up treating the staff who must endure their insufferable requests. I’ve never been on a cruise (and after this, that’s even less likely to happen) but anyone who has or those particularly who’ve worked on them I’m sure can relate to this. As disgusting as some of the people portrayed in Triangle of Sadness are, there are moments where you’ll almost feel sorry for them, but you might also be wiping the tears from your face from laughing. A story that places these uber-rich people in a survival situation plays out about as well as you’d expect. It feels like two movies joined together, with the first act reminding me of Zoolander at times, then eventually descending into a more Lord of the Flies vibe, with a third act taking a strange turn.

Perhaps a satirical comedy about some of the most horrific people isn’t for everyone. The seasickness scene particularly is horrendous and maybe you should make sure you’re done munching away on popcorn at that point. It does seem a little drawn out in places, yet I was never bored, but this did make the abrupt ending feel like it came out of nowhere. Despite that I still thoroughly enjoyed Triangle of Sadness.

Harris Dickinson is certainly having a great year onscreen, Where The Crawdads Sing, See How They Run and now Triangle of Sadness all in 2022. The guy is going places that’s for sure and I’m sure we’ll continue to see him in lots of different movies to come. Alongside the late Charlbi Dean together they are brilliant as the model/influencer couple. After winning a trip on the yacht, they seem a little out of place next to all the others who’ve bought a ticket. Although they also have questionable character traits you do feel for them when things descend into chaos. Woody Harrelson always puts in a great performance, if anything he could have been used more. Also Dolly De Leon is another standout performance, she is wonderful. Everyone brought their best to this movie and it shows. It didn’t win the Palme d’Or at Cannes for nothing and after this I intend on checking out director and writer Ruben Östlund’s other movies.

The cinema was completely packed and in stitches laughing at the Triangle of Sadness. So, if you’re in the mood for something a little different and done with all the horror movies right now then here’s your movie. If you’re still unsure the trailer gives a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. Highly recommended.

★★★★★

Black Adam

If The Mummy and Shazam had a baby the result would be this. Black Adam is a disastrous attempt at a big budget Superhero movie and another mediocre addition to the DCEU. Sorry Dwayne The Tooth-fairy Johnson, your best movie was Fighting with My Family and nothing is ever going to beat that. Give it up man, this ain’t your gig.

So in the year 2600BC a bunch of Wizards gave the power of the gods to a young slave in order to stop the evil King Ahk-Ton from using the evil crown of Sabbac. He triumphs, making him the Champion of Kahndaq. Now nearly 5,000 years later he his accidently awakened in modern day Kahndaq. Deemed too powerful, it’s time to call in some professionals to deal with him. Cue The Justice League……no wait, that’s not right……The Suicide Squad……oh no, not them either, ah yes, The Justice Society of America……that lot. Made up of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). And no I’m not making these up. Christ the DCEU is a right mess. I wish they’d just calm down with all the team up movies, it was half-assed before and it’s the same again. For anyone who didn’t already know, yes this is a Shazam spin-off.

Alright I don’t ever want to see slow motion used in another Superhero movie ever again, ya hear me? You ruined it. Black Adam probably could have been twenty minutes shorter if it wasn’t for the extreme overuse of slow motion. Feckin’ ridiculous. Enough is enough. This right here is the result of a bunch of mindless money hungry studio executives sitting in a room and brainstorming a way to make a Blockbuster Superhero movie that will rake in the cash. Get one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood to sign on as the lead and bam! You’ve got yourself a Superhero movie, and a rather heartless one at that.

Black Adam is a giant disappointment and I didn’t exactly have high expectations to begin with. It’s dull, stupid and uses an obnoxious amount of terrible CGI for the endless crashy fight scenes. There’s also plenty of slow motion to make sure you don’t miss anything. And look I know many of the comic-book movies rely on lots of CGI but it’s just not up to standard anymore. Either pay the VFX artists better or allow more time to make it actually look decent.

There is absolutely nothing exciting about Black Adam, it’s one of the most underwhelming Superhero movies I have ever seen. There is zero peril, no sense that the hero is ever in danger or in trouble. They’ve created the blandest character imaginable, a hero so ultimately powerful it’s boring. He’s surrounded by a bunch of underdeveloped characters showing up for more awful CGI fight scenes. Lots of explosions, lightning bolts and evil red lasers.

Black Adam isn’t the worst Superhero movie I’ve ever seen, it’s not even the worst DC movie out there but it’s close. Too close. Recommended for any DCEU fans, I’m sure there’s still a few of you out there. The mid credits scene lasted about a minute but it was better than the entire film for one obvious reason.

★☆☆☆☆

The Banshees of Inisherin

I dare any Irish person to watch The Banshees of Inisherin and not recognise themselves or someone they know in this story. Director and writer Martin McDonagh has created another masterpiece.

Set on the Island of Inisherin, lifelong friends Pádraic (Colm Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) find themselves in the centre of a dilemma when Colm abruptly ends the friendship, much to the shock of the entire Island. Pádraic refuses to accept that Colm could suddenly just decide not to be friends anymore and is determined to put an end to this childish feud. With the help of his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon) and friend Dominic (Barry Keoghan) they try and repair the relationship. Yet the more Pádraic tries with Colm the worse it gets until Colm is pushed to give a rather dramatic ultimatum with shocking consequences. That’s more than enough on the plot, if you haven’t seen the trailer then keep it that way and just get to a cinema to see it for yourself.

For all the Martin McDonagh fans you need to know that The Banshees of Inisherin is definitely more on the bleak side. Although classed as a black comedy, it’s far more dark and melancholic than comedy. Don’t expect the same amount of laughs compared to some of his other movies such as In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. As to be expected the story is balancing between humour and serious topics, in this case depression, despair and mental illness. You’ll be laughing one minute and disturbed the next. It’s not afraid to pull at the heart strings and will provoke a strong reaction from the audience. It’s definitely a unique story that will stay with you long after the credits has ended.

The cast is small but makes an impact, each playing their part brilliantly. Colin Farrell particularly stands out and reminds us just how good of an actor he really is. Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan are also giving hugely memorable performances so it’s no surprise the entire film has received so much awards buzz already. It’s honestly a relief to watch an Irish film that actually got Irish actors and not a bunch of actors sounding like leprechauns. It’s authentic for the time, especially the dialogue and doesn’t play too much into the stereotypes.

McDonagh is the perfect choice for writing stories that tackle dark issues and inserting comedy among quite depressing topics. The Banshees of Inisherin is a brilliant film, hilarious and bleak. It’s one of a kind and definitely one of the best this year. Highly recommended for everyone.

★★★★★

Decision to Leave

Decision to Leave is one of the best films of the year. For all the fans of director Park Chan-wook you won’t need any convincing, for anyone not too familiar with his other movies, you’re in good hands. This is a crime/mystery/romance that will have you utterly captivated.

On a mountain peak in South Korea, a man plummets to his death. As an experienced climber his death appears suspicious. Did he jump or is it possible he was pushed? Detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) begins his investigation and very quickly suspects the dead man’s wife Seo-rae (Tang Wei). Everything is not as it seems and as he delves deeper into the investigation he becomes entwined in a sea of deception and desire.

Park Chan-wook has created another masterpiece that’s sure to gain a lot of Oscar buzz. This is filmmaking, an excellent story with superb performances, topped off with some amazing cinematography and music. Park Hae-il as the troubled detective being pulled in two conflicting directions, his job and his heart. Tang Wei as the grieving widow, she gives an amazing performance. It’s a slow burner but the chemistry between Tang Wei and Park Hae-il is brilliant. The story is dark and contains elements you won’t see coming, including some unexpectedly comedic moments scattered throughout. It has an old-school neo noir feel to it. There will be times where you think you’ve figured it out only to have the story dart in another direction. It’s an immersive cinematic experience. A dark romance that even those of you who aren’t big into that genre will love.

What else do I have to say? This is a must see. One of the best films of the year. All you crime movie buffs out there, make sure to check out Decision to Leave. It’s absolutely stunning and highly recommended.

★★★★★

Hatching

A simple idea very well executed and a must see for all those looking for a scary movie this Halloween. And sure there’s an actual Halloween movie out now (yes another one) that could you watch. But do you want the same idea rehashed again or do you want to actually be scared? Make your choice.

12-year-old Tinja (Siiri Solalinna) is a young gymnast struggling under the stress of her demanding mother (Sophia Heikkilä). Tinja finds a strange egg in the woods outside her house and decides to keep it hidden in her room. Instead of noticing her troubled daughter, her mother is far too concerned with her social media addiction and obsession with portraying their lives as the picture perfect family image whereas the reality is far from that. Although it’s clear this isn’t an ordinary egg, when it hatches, what emerges is more horrifying than anyone could have imagined.

Hatching isn’t exactly going to keep you up at night but it’s a great idea and keeps you invested the entire time. Foreign language films generally have an extra edge to them and with this I wasn’t sure at all where it was going. It’s somewhere between a monster movie and a psychological thriller. It’s uneasy viewing alright and becomes more disturbing by the minute. It’s got a lot more depth beneath the surface which ensures it won’t just be remembered as an average horror movie.

And sure look, originality in the horror genre is always refreshing, I love to see new ideas put on the big screen. You’ll always have the likes of the stale Halloween movies or Scream but those painfully generic franchises have long since lost their spark. Hatching on the other hand is a reminder that with a simple idea and a decent script you can make a creepy horror that will scare audiences.

An eerie and atmospheric horror movie done right with the feelings of a dark fairytale running throughout. Highly recommended for all the horror movie fans.

★★★★☆

Hocus Pocus 2

Considering the fan reaction to the news of Hocus Pocus 2, it’s clear there was a real desire for a sequel to the 1993 classic Halloween movie. Although I don’t like admitting this but the Sanderson Sisters probably should have stayed dead, instead they came back for a sequel that’s a heavy dose of nostalgia and not much else.

On Halloween night, during a full moon, two young women accidently bring back the Sanderson Sisters (again) to modern day Salem. They now need to find a way to stop the wicked witches before they feed on children and get revenge on the town of Salem. Yes that all sounds familiar doesn’t it? Well it should, because rather than try something new with Hocus Pocus it’s the same idea done again only worse.

Despite a very promising opening sequence featuring the Sanderson Sisters as children, Hocus Pocus 2 descends into an unfunny, heartless sequel that only reminds you at how much better the first one is, and that wasn’t exactly a masterpiece to begin with. It really is the exact same thing done again only with enough unfunny jokes stuffed into it you’ll either die of cringe or your eyes will roll into the back of your head and stay there forever. With the original there was at least the feeling that the Sanderson Sisters were a genuine threat to people but with Hocus Pocus 2 there’s none of that. They’re just blundering their way through Salem while not understanding how the modern world works….hilarious.

Sure it’s great they got most of the original cast back, Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker. They’re all back including the fabulous Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson. Also added to the cast is Hannah Waddingham (yes you do know who she is, look her up) who I have to say was criminally underused. You don’t get Hannah Waddingham to only use her for five minutes. What a missed opportunity. The younger actors cast to play Winne, Sarah and Mary in Salem were spot on, that whole sequence was the best thing about this sequel and I probably would have enjoyed it if the whole film was like that. Why do a sequel if it’s just the same idea redone badly when a perfectly good origin story was right there? Madness, and another missed opportunity.

Hocus Pocus 2 completely relies on nostalgia and sure look it worked, I ended up watching it, and nostalgia always sells. But the story is weak, the jokes don’t land and the musical numbers certainly don’t work. Even with all that being said, the original Hocus Pocus was financially a flop at the box office when it first opened (seriously who decided to release it during the Summer?). It only gained its popular cult status afterwards and myself and many of you probably watched it every Halloween on TV for years. For that reason we all have fond memories of Hocus Pocus so who’s to say how popular this sequel will be in twenty years. The younger generation will probably enjoy it, and if it does indeed do well with streaming viewers don’t be surprised if yet another sequel appears.

There’s plenty of decent horror movies to indulge on this Halloween but if you need something a little less scary then you might be better off with the original Hocus Pocus instead. Hocus Pocus 2 is recommended for anyone looking to entertain their kids with a Halloween movie that isn’t going to give them any nightmares.

★★☆☆☆