Saturday 23 October 2021

The Guest (2014)

"A Modern Classic"

One of the best exploitation films of the 21st century gets a deserved whistles and bells 3 disc all singing and dancing (well the set does include a soundtrack CD) 4KUHD and Blu-ray release courtesy of Second Sight.

The Peterson family are still mourning the death of their soldier son Caleb when a man calling himself David (Dan Stevens) turns up at their home and claims to have been part of Caleb's regiment. Admitting he has nowhere to live David is invited to stay. Soon father Spencer (Leland Orser) gets a promotion after the man intended for it is found dead, son Luke (Brendan Meyer) is no longer troubled by school bullies, and the drug-peddling boyfriend of daughter Anna (Maika Monroe) has been put away. Does David have anything to do with this? Is he as good as he appears? Or might he just happen to be part of a secret military experiment gone horribly wrong?

A big hit when it premiered at London's Frightfest in 2014 with director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett in attendance, THE GUEST was quite the revelation after the team's previous efforts YOU'RE NEXT (2011) and A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (2010), representing a quantum leap in budget and ambition as well as giving us a star-making performance from Dan Stevens. Its influences (HALLOWEEN, THE TERMINATOR, John Carpenter films in general) aren't difficult to spot, although the only actual visual in-jokes are to HALLOWEEN III (at the end) and HALLOWEEN IV (pretty much the opening shot). It's a cracker of a movie and feels just as fresh and polished now as it did seven years ago.

Second Sight's special edition features a whole load of new extras. You get the Wingard / Barrett commentary track from the original Blu-ray release plus a new one specially recorded for this edition. There's also an excellent lengthy interview with the duo that lasts about 50 minutes and covers all their work together to date. You also get a 20 minute interview with Dan Stevens, looking like he's just stepped off the set of 2020's EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA; a seven minute interview with Maika Monroe; and longer interviews with producers Keith Calder and Jess Wu Calder (23 minutes), DP Robby Baumgartner (21 minutes), production designer Tom Hammock (13 minutes) and composer Steve Moore in his room filled with classic 1970s and 1980s keyboards (12 minutes). There are also 15 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary, which were available on the previous Blu-ray release.

All the extras are on both the UHD and Blu-ray discs. The CD soundtrack wasn't provided for review but it looks as if it contains the songs used on the soundtrack. Steve Moore's synth score has been issued separately but it's not known if any Moore cuts are on the CD included here.

Finally, the discs come in a rigid slipcase that also includes six collectors' art cards and a 160 page book featuring new writing, script extracts, notes on the soundtrack. A fantastic package for a fantastic film and another superlative package from Second Sight.

Adam Wingard's THE GUEST is out in a three disc limited edition set of 5000 from Second Sight on Monday 25th October 2021

Friday 22 October 2021

Short Sharp Shocks Volume 2 (1943 - 1986)


Here we go again with another pick'n'mix sampling of what British cinema has had to offer in the way of short subjects over the years, all of them with the accent on the macabre. Like the first volume, which I covered here and in which I talked a little bit about why these productions existed in the first place, a variety of different types of programme fillers have been included over two discs. So let's dig in and see what the BFI has put together for us this time.

Disc One

Quiz Crime No.1 and Quiz Crime No.2 (1943 and 1944)

We kick off with some jolly japes as you the audience get to play detective in four mysteries (two per 18 minute short). Antiquated clues and even more antiquated accents all add to the fun of these charming little pieces which are more enjoyable than any more modern attempt to ridicule them ever could be. I wonder if there were any more.

The Three Children (1946)

Proof that British public information films were capable of being grim way before the 1970s (and rather atmospheric, too) here's this little three minute short. I'll leave it to you to discover the subject matter, but that chap up there doesn't look very friendly, does he?

Escape From Broadmoor (1948)

The escape has already happened by the time this one is underway, and psychopathic burglar-cum-killer John Le Mesurier is busy plotting his next heist, which involves his return to the country house where he killed a maid. The first half of this 38 minute short gives us the backstory, the rest is all atmosphere and gradually weirder goings-on, until we reach the climax of this, the first in a proposed series of 'Psychic Mysteries'. The first directorial credit for John Gilling (Hammer's THE REPTILE, PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, THE MUMMY'S SHROUD) who does everything he can to wring atmosphere out of his limited resources.

Mingaloo (1958)

The one truly laughable short in this entire set comes courtesy of co-writer (with Anthony Page) and director Theodore Zichy (who gave us PORTRAIT OF A MATADOR and DEATH WAS A PASSENGER in Volume One). Zichy signs his work as if it's great art. It's certainly great something. "Of its time" is probably the kindest way to describe MINGALOO, a film that manages to cram in a number of inappropriate elements in its first few minutes, including three men in brown face makeup. The female lead's voice is a special effect all to itself and the way she is treated by the male lead is, again "of its time". The plot is some slight stuff about an artist dreaming up a model of a dog that criminals then want to use for drug smuggling. However, in amongst all the amateurishness we get one decent, almost Lovecraftian dream, sequence involving a giant idol and a tiny girl, so it's worth at least one watch.  

Jack the Ripper (1963)

Screaming Lord Sutch gurns for England in this very early example of the pop video.

Disc one contains no extras.

Disc Two

The Face of Darkness (1976)

Lennard Pearce plays a right-wing MP whose wife was murdered by an extremist group. He's pushing to get a bill through parliament that will bring in identity cards and see the return of hanging. To improve his chances of success he uses ancient texts to find the burial site of a man excommunicated in the 1400s. He digs him up and the now revived 'Undead' plants a bomb at a local school before proving to be rather less controllable than the MP had hoped. There's a decent idea here but THE FACE OF DARKNESS tries way too hard to be taken as both arty and complex when it fact it's a very straightforward story. As a result it all comes across as a bit pompous and silly. If you're a fan of 1970s UK cinema (which of course I am) then it's of interest, but others will wonder how something like this ever ended up on the first half of an exploitation programme (in this case as the B feature to William Fruet's DEATH WEEKEND). 

The Dumb Waiter (1979)

A mini British 'stalk 'n' slash' as the man who has been sending Geraldine James threatening phone calls tries to break into her flat. Director Robert Bierman, who  went onto make the delirious Nicolas Cage-starring VAMPIRE'S KISS (1988) does a decent job of maintaining suspense in this one and it's a pity he didn't get the chance to make his own WHEN A STRANGER CALLS-style slasher.

Hangman (1985)

It's time for some good old public information film fun in this 17 minute short demonstrating some of the potential hazards to be encountered on building sites. Unlike 1978's BUILDING SITES BITE which was made to be shown in schools, HANGMAN is aimed squarely at the builders themselves, even if the titular lead comes across a bit like a Monty Python character in black garb and mask. Fans of Jon Pertwee-era Dr Who will enjoy the spectacle of Stuart Fell falling 30 feet, and the end credits reveal he was the stunt coordinator for the entire film.

The Mark of Lilith (1986)

This one's firmly at the art house end of the spectrum, examining the history of monstrous women in folklore and myth while at the same time giving us a storyline about a lesbian film-maker getting involved with a female vampire. By far the most 'art school project' of the films presented here, kudos to the BFI for ending this set on something a bit different, but it won't be to everyone's taste. 

Extras for disc two include interviews with FACE OF DARKNESS director Ian FH Floyd, DUMB WAITER director Robert Bierman, and MARK OF LILITH directors Bruna Fionda, Polly Biswas Gladwin and Zachary Nataf. There are also image galleries for those three films, as well as Putting on the Ritzy, a short piece which celebrates the history of the cinema where MARK OF LILITH was filmed. Add in a booklet and new artwork by Graham Humphreys and this is another fascinating shorts package from the BFI. Let's hope we get a Volume Three.

SHORT SHARP SHOCKS VOLUME TWO is out from the BFI in a two disc Blu-ray set on Monday 25th October 2021

Thursday 21 October 2021

We Need To Do Something (2021)

"Tense Claustrophobic Single Location Shocker"

Sean King O'Grady's debut horror feature gets a UK digital release courtesy of Blue Finch.

During a terrible storm complete with tornado warnings a family of four retreats to the bathroom of their house to wait things out, the rationale being that it's the most robust place in the building. But then the collapse of a tree against their only exit and a sudden failure of their mobile phones results in them being trapped in there.

Days pass.The door can only be opened a fraction and there's the worrying suggestion that something very strange has happened outside. Has there been a world war? An alien attack? And why are we seeing flashbacks to a black magic ritual?

There have been quite a few movies made under lockdown conditions, and WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING is one of the better ones. Boasting a fine cast including Pat Healy (THE INNKEEPERS, CHEAP THRILLS), Vinessa Shaw (EYES WIDE SHUT, COLD IN JULY) and Sierra McCormick (VFW) it's pretty tightly scripted (by Max Booth III) and resourcefully directed. In fact the film does so well in maintaining both a sense of tension and mystery that some may worry that it might not last until the finale. I'm not going to spoil it for you either way, suffice to say WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING is a decent little thriller that would have made a fine television play back in the day, and it makes Sean King O'Grady and Max Booth III names to watch.

WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING is out on Digital from Blue Finch Releasing on Monday 25th October 2021

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

"Timeless Classic Guaranteed to Keep You Awake"

        One of the best science fiction films of the 1950s gets a sparkling extras-packed Blu-ray release from the BFI.

Returning from a medical conference Dr Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) discover that a strange epidemic of delusions is affecting the small town of Santa Mira. For a short period his patients are convinced that loved ones and friends are actually copies of the people they know, then the condition resolves.

Of course, as pretty much anyone familiar with classic SF knows by now, what's actually happening is that pods from outer space have landed in Santa Mira, and aliens are taking on the exact form of the local population in order to survive. Soon only Miles and his girlfriend Becky (Dana Wynter) are left, and the pods plan to get them too, as well as spread further afield.

Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers is such a classic that it remains in print to this day (currently as a Gollancz SF Masterwork). Director Don Siegel's adaptation was the first of four versions, the first three of which (this, Philip Kaufman's 1978s version and another from Abel Ferrara from 1993) are all very good. Siegel's film runs a brief 80 minutes and doesn't hang around, making pretty much every scene and every line of dialogue count and leading to a climax that was so effective the powers that be insisted on a wraparound prologue and epilogue (included here) to soften its impact.

The BFI's Blu-ray comes complete with two commentary tracks - one with the two stars and director Joe Dante from 2006, and a new one by Jim Hemphill. Other extras ported over from the 2006 release include the 26 minute making of 'Sleep No More', two short pieces on the film's themes and how it got its title, and the revisiting of key locations. Joe Dante also contributes on a Trailers From Hell for the film from 2013. You also get the usual bundle of BFI short subjects, this time including DOORSTEP TO COMMUNISM (1948) and two about botany, MAGIC MYXIES from 1931 and BATTLE OF THE PLANTS from 1926. Finally, the first pressing also comes with a booklet with new writing on the film as well as reprints and notes on the extras.

Don Siegel's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is out on Blu-ray from the BFI on Monday 25th October 2021

Tuesday 19 October 2021

Bigfoot Hunters (2021)

It's time for a dose of comedy horror as creature feature mockumentary (aka funny found footage - is that a subgenre? It probably is now) BIGFOOT HUNTERS gets a cinema and digital release from Fractured Visions.

Tired of doing clickbait youtube pieces on craft beer and people living in dumpsters, and with his plans for a being appointed to a better profile job usurped by a foul-talking rival, Brian Emond (playing himself, it says here) finds himself with his producer and cameraman Zach (director Zach Lampaugh) in the Appalachian mountains on the trail of the legendary Bigfoot.

Their guide is sasquatch-obsessed Jeffrey, a cryptozoologist who still hasn't got over his girlfriend leaving him because of his hobby. Soon all three of them are lost in the woods. But what's that mangled body doing over there? Why are there Keep Out signs in an allegedly deserted area of forest? And what actually visited their campsite during their first night in the wilderness?

BIGFOOT HUNTERS wants to be a comedy and there certainly are some funny moments. The problem arises when it wants to mix in horror elements which are played just that little bit too seriously for our comedy team to play off successfully. It would be giving too much away to give specific examples, suffice to say the team behind SOUTH PARK series would have been able to take the kind of idea presented here and make it work, but the team behind BIGFOOT HUNTERS don't have quite the skill to mix the silly with the serious. As such it's a film that ultimately feels unsatisfying simply because some of the laughs should (and could) have landed rather better than they do. 

BIGFOOT HUNTERS is out in cinemas on Friday 22nd October 2021 and on digital on Monday 25th October 2021

Sunday 17 October 2021

No Man of God (2021)

"Excellent True Crime Drama"

Following its premiere at this year's Frightfest and a digital release back in September, Amber Sealey's NO MAN OF GOD is coming out on UK Blu-ray from 101 Films in a nicely presented box set that includes some special features.

Serial killer Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) has been caught and sentenced to death. Now he sits in a Florida penitentiary waiting to hear the outcome of his latest appeal or if the date of his execution has finally been set. Meanwhile, FBI analyst and new kid on the block Bill Hagmeier (Elijah Wood), recruited to the organisation's new profiling service, volunteers to attempt to talk to the notoriously interview-shy Bundy in an attempt to profile him. What follows is the development of a fascinating relationship between the two men, one that lasts all the way from 1984 to Bundy's execution in the electric chair in 1989.

Written by C Robert Cargill (SINISTER), the screenplay for NO MAN OF GOD uses Hagmeier's real-life transcripts and interviews with the FBI agent. Director Amber Sealey gets the absolute most out of a film that is essentially two men talking in an interview room and her skill, combined with the talents of the two leads, result in a film that is utterly riveting. NO MAN OF GOD is a must-see for true crime aficionados but its appeal is wider than that. This is a great, absorbing piece of cinema and kudos to producers Daniel Noah and Elijah Wood for getting this project to the screen.

101 Films' Blu-ray contains 80 minutes of interviews - half an hour with Elijah Wood, 40 minutes with Luke Kirby and ten minutes with co-star Aleksa Palladino who plays Bundy's defence lawyer. The disc comes in a rigid box featuring newly commissioned artwork and a set of art cards. It's a film that deserves some special treatment and while it premiered at what many would consider a horror film festival, this is mainstream true crime cinema at its best. Nice job 101 Films.

Amber Sealey's NO MAN OF GOD is out in a Special Edition Blu-ray from 101 Films on Monday 25th October 2021

Saturday 16 October 2021

Escape Room 2: Tournament of Champions (2021)

The sequel to Adam Robitel's highly entertaining ESCAPE ROOM (which I reviewed here) is getting a Blu-ray, Digital and DVD release from Sony.

The winners of the first film find themselves on an underground railway carriage in the company of people who are previous winners of similar competitions. Before you can say 'that must have taken a fair bit of unlikely planning' they've been plunged into a championship of champions with the kind of elaborate time-sensitive, failure = death puzzles we've come to know and love.

If you liked the first ESCAPE ROOM (and I very much did) then chances are you'll find ESCAPE ROOM: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS buckets of ridiculous fun too. My favourite puzzle involved something very Elder Scrolls Skyrim set against the backdrop of a gorgeous Dr Phibes-style (or rather Brian Eatwell-style) art-deco set. Forty years ago this would have got called SON OF SAW in other territories. Adam Robitel directs and once again reinforces his reputation as a Leigh Whannell-style up and coming creator of well crafted exploitation fare.

Sony's Blu-ray includes two cuts of the film - theatrical (88 minutes) and extended (96 minutes). With DVD it's theatrical cut only and on digital it depends on the platform you get it from. The two cuts are surprisingly different, with radically different openings and endings - the final 20 minutes of each version have very little in common, plus the extended cut has a different subplot running through it. Watching the two versions it's obvious that the Extended Cut was intended as the release version but either tested poorly or was deemed unsuitable and a substantial rewrite resulted in a lot of cuts plus a fair bit of new footage being added. 

Either way if you're only going to watch one version of ESCAPE ROOM 2 the theatrical cut is the one to go for - it's leaner, tighter and has a more effective ending. The real bonus of having the extended cut is it gives you a chance to see how radically movies sometimes get altered before then end up in the cinema. The other extras on Sony's disc include fifteen minutes worth of featurettes, including a short interview with director Adam Robitel.

Adam Robitel's ESCAPE ROOM 2: TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS is out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Sony on Monday 18th October 2021

Thursday 14 October 2021

The Beta Test (2021)

"THUNDER ROAD director's next must-see"

The latest film from Jim Cummings, director, writer and star of  2018's rather good THUNDER ROAD and 2020's THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW gets a cinema release from Blue Finch releasing.

Jordan (Cummings) works for a Hollywood talent agency and is soon due to marry Caroline (Virginia Newcomb from THE THEATRE BIZARRE's framework story). He receives a mysterious card in the mail inviting him to an anonymous sexual encounter with 'someone who desires him'. The card comes complete with sexual preference tick boxes for him to fill in.

Jordan's not sure what to do. We know it's a bad idea because we've seen the rather excellent giallo-like prologue where a girl has accepted the invitation, confessed the subsequent liaison to her lover, and met a bloody death at his hands as a result. But Jordan eventually goes ahead, spending an afternoon of blindfolded passion with someone who is also blindfolded. Both remain anonymous to the other. Meanwhile, more people who have accepted such invitations are being murdered by their partners.

A clever commentary on the power of social media, lack of privacy, the nature of relationships and how almost everything you do now might be stored permanently online somewhere, THE BETA TEST is an engrossing off-kilter thriller that almost qualifies as science fiction in its denouement and resolution - there's that sense of all we see being no more than five minutes into the future. 

It's skilfully written and directed by Cummings and PJ McCabe, who also stars as Jordan's best friend, while Cummings himself excels as the increasingly hysterical, almost Patrick Bateman-style agent whose grip on his world begins to swiftly crumble. It's a great follow-on from THUNDER ROAD and marks Cummings and McCabe as talents to watch.

THE BETA TEST is getting a cinema release from Blue Finch on Friday 15th October 2021

Saturday 9 October 2021

Followed (2018)

The found footage genre appears to be alive and (reasonably) well in Antoine Le's FOLLOWED, which is getting a digital (how apt) release from Altitude.

Annoying social media 'influencer' Mike (Matthew Solomon) has a youtube channel where he visits crime scene locations and enthuses with almost pathological vigour about the horrors that took place there. When he bags a lucrative sponsorship deal with 'Haute Gothic' on the condition his subscriber base substantially increases, he decides to visit the Lennox Hotel, a building that has seen far more than its fair share of murders, suicides, and possibly even hauntings. But nothing prepares him for the revelations he eventually discovers within.

As video technology has advanced so has the watchability of movies that employ that technology to convey their narratives. FOLLOWED still has a fair bit of shaky cam but at least the images we get in these movies now is nice and clear. As for its content, FOLLOWED is frequently derivative, spends a lot of time relating scary stories that don't pay off later, and only in its second half does it start to deliver the goods, and even then it all feels rather half-baked. If you want to be scared by doors opening by themselves or objects falling off shelves then you're still better off watching PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, but there's fun to be had here spotting other movie influences - one ongoing thread of the team's editor staying in her hotel room and going slowly insane has an almost PRINCE OF DARKNESS feel to it.

Ultimately, while FOLLOWED is nothing special, if you're in the mood for a found footage picture where a very annoying lead character actually has an arc that helps explain his actions with some scary bits along the way then you could do worse than this.

FOLLOWED is out on digital from Altitude Film Distribution on Monday 11th October 2021

Thursday 7 October 2021

The Monster aka I Don't Want to be Born (1975)

"In Which the Arse End of the Golden Age of British Horror Cinema Is Well & Truly Thrust in Our Faces"

So it has come to this. Network are releasing, in a fairly decent transfer on Blu-ray, I DON'T WANT TO BE BORN (as those of us of a certain age all know it from 1980s TV broadcasts). It's the film frequently, if not exactly affectionately, referred to by fans as 'that one with Joan Collins and the dwarf' and the only film to date to result in a baby winning the Best Actor award at a major fantastic film festival (either Sitges or Avoriaz - I can't remember which).

Joan and her massive prop baby

A startlingly awful car crash of a British horror movie also known as THE DEVIL WITHIN HER in the US, THE MONSTER on this print at least, and SHARON'S BABY somewhere in the world where no-one told the person retitling it that there was no Sharon in the film, I DON'T WANT TO BE BORN is probably the only chance you’ll get to see what might happen if a bunch of 1970s BritHorror actors were to be cast into an Italian demonic possession movie that tried to rip off THE OMEN before it had even been released (which is probably partly why it doesn’t bear much resemblance to it.). Part of the reason is that this was a British-Italian coproduction, with Rank really not knowing what it was getting itself into doing a deal with Italian producer Nato de Angeles who also came up with the original story, which is presumably why some of the characters are Italian.

Not a scene from RENTAGHOST

And ‘original’ is certainly being kind to the string of events we get to see. Attempting some sort of chronological order (there are quite a few flashbacks) Joan Collins is a stripper called Lucy (and NOT Sharon) who gets cursed by a dwarf whose advances she spurns. Before you can say ‘that’s a bit tasteless even for 1975’ she’s giving birth unconvincingly in the presence of children’s TV star Floella Benjamin and Donald Pleasance, looking as if he wishes he could be anywhere else but in this film with every single line of dialogue he utters. “This one doesn’t want to be born” says Donald as Ron Grainer’s 'everything that was sleazy about the mid-1970s' theme music kicks in to herald the main titles. 

Reaction of the British cinemagoing public of 1975

Lucy is married to Gino Carlesi (Ralph Bates sporting an unconvincing Italian accent). Gino’s sister is a nun and seems to spend all day at a convent where she has a laboratory where she can carry out animal experimentation. This has absolutely nothing to do with the film and one can only presume there was some animal research facility going free that day in which to film a few scenes. Eileen Atkins plays the role as…well…someone in an Italian horror film, which is the note everyone seems to take. Perhaps director Peter Sasdy (that’s Peter Sasdy – HANDS OF THE RIPPER and THE STONE TAPE Peter Sasdy) got them all to watch a badly dubbed Bruno Mattei picture and said “You see? THAT’S what I want.” 

A Best Actor Award winner...somewhere

Joan’s baby possesses such superhuman strength that when it isn’t happy gurgling in its pram it’s whacking babysitter Janet Key over the head, cutting off Donald Pleasance’s head with a shovel (you can almost feel the relief ebbing through the screen as he realises he’s finally off the picture) and murdering his way through most of the cast. It all ends very stupidly indeed with an exorcism scene intercut with a slow motion dwarf death at the strip club. Say what you like but I don’t think there has been an ending like this before or since in cinema history. Before that we are treated to the Italian horror standbys of obvious dubbing (Caroline Munro and John Steiner), gratuitous and unnecessary nudity and a totally bizarre and out of left field dream sequence featuring Joan being threatened by a bloodstained John Steiner and Ralph Bates dressed up as a dead nun.

Lovely wallpaper

So now you know if you want to see this but do you want Network's Blu-ray? Well the transfer is probably as good as this rather grotty film is ever going to look. Extras kick off with a commentary which is okay if you don't know anything about this period of cinema but if you're at all familiar with it you can sit this one out, otherwise you'll soon be shouting at the screen to prompt the commentators as they struggle to remember certain facts. 

Lovely acting

There's a new half an hour interview with Peter Sasdy as well as interviews with editor Keith Palmer and continuity legend Renee Glynne as well as alternate credits with the 'proper' title, trailer and image gallery. Finally you also get a booklet by Adrian Smith. 

There has never been a film quite like this. Made completely straight faced it turned out to be the very epitome of Bad Film as entertainment. And now it's on Blu-ray. Treat yourself. 

Peter Sasdy's THE MONSTER / I DON'T WANT TO BE BORN is out on Blu-ray from Network on Monday 11th October 2021

Saturday 2 October 2021

Meander (2021)

"CUBE with tubes!"

It's difficult to say much else about MEANDER, a French science fiction film that's getting a digital release from Altitude and kind of emulates Vincenzo Natali's excellent 1997 puzzle picture, but let's try.

We open with Lisa (Gaia Weiss) lying on a road beneath a flyover. She's picked up by Adam (Peter Franzen, probably best known to HMC readers as King Harald Finehair from Amazon's TV series VIKINGS). After a bit of chit chat to provide a smidgeon of characterisation Adam hits the brakes and then Lisa wakes up inside a cramped space.

She's barefoot and dressed in some kind of skintight uniform (one wonders if the original idea was to have her naked for the entire film - in a reductive vulnerable kind of way rather than exploitative). She has a timer round her wrist and soon a door opens, allowing her into a metal tube. Thus begins her journey through a series of traps which start off physical (heat, water, acid) but become psychological as well. But who is doing this and why?

MEANDER keeps you guessing up until almost the very end of the film when we reach a denouement that will be most satisfying to fans of 1970s-style art-house SF, so don't expect a Jigsaw-type character to turn up and explain it all. It's well-directed and Weiss carries a film requiring very little dialogue for much of its runtime very well indeed. It's actually nice to see this kind of SF on our screens again and MEANDER is a little low-budget EuroSF gem.

MEANDER is out on digital from Altitude on Monday 4th October 2021