Halloween AND Bonfire Night, all rolled into one week? There’s almost too much to recommend…
But, I guess we’ll give it a go. Until Christmas full-on takes over (which, judging by the shop displays and fairy light switch-ons, can’t be that much further away now) this week is just about as seasonal as the second half of 2017 gets. Winter is well and truly coming, and there’s nothing more comforting around this time than curling up in a cosy local cinema and disappearing into a film. So instead of dillydallying around and insinuating things about how great this week’s going to be, let’s just get to it instead, shall we?
Halloween (Genesis Cinema & Prince Charles Cinema on Tuesday 31st October)
Just throwing it out there, London plays host to a borderline-ridiculous amount of horror screenings this Halloween. Even just off the top of my head alone, there’s The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, The Shining, Trick r Treat, Beetlejuice, An American Werewolf in London and Psycho. Not to mention the newbies like Jigsaw. But nothing says Halloween like, well a horror movie actually called Halloween.
The low-fi slasher made a star of not just its lead Jamie-Lee Curtis and its psycho of choice, the soulless Michael Myers, all the way back in 1978, but also of its totally maverick director John Carpenter too, who went on to achieve legendary status in the years that followed. It’s totally bare-bones, cheap as hell and remains a genuinely frightening experience 40 years on; a quintessential classic that still packs a bigger punch than almost every other similar horror that followed. It’s also screening at both the Genesis Cinema (with a filmed intro from Carpenter himself) and the Prince Charles (on 35mm celluloid) so there’s plenty of choice too.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (across London all week)
Officially released this Friday, but already previewing all over the place already, Yorgos Lanthimos’s seriously sharp-edged follow-up to The Lobster isn’t far off a Halloween horror in itself. The story of a regular ol’ suburban family (headed up by Nicole Kidman and a well-bearded Colin Farrell) torn apart by a unruly new teenage presence (Dunkirk’s Barry Keoghan), it’s a thriller, wrapped in a slowly-unravelling mystery, wrapped in a whole lot of sensationally dark humour.
The deeper it gets, the more Lanthimos’s super wonky European style shines through, and it goes without saying that this is certainly not one for the masses. Just a quick glimpse of the trailer alone should show off how uncomfortable Sacred Deer is, but as an experience in cinematic style, it can not come more highly recommended. Be prepared to feel a little bit weird afterwards though.
78/52 (BFI Southbank all week and across London from Friday)
Another newbie, and another major hit at this year’s London Film Festival, this super involving cult doc digs right down deep into the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary Hollywood hit Psycho. Taking its name from the exact amount of camera set-ups and cuts it took to get the game-changer of a reveal in the can, Alexandre O. Phillippe’s film builds on everything from archive footage to new original interviews with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro and a whole load of other cinematic royalty, making for one of the most detailed docs in years. And word on the street is, Phillippe and his team have their hearts set on giving the chestburster scene from Ridley Scott’s Alien the same treatment next, so keep your eyes peeled for sure!
Sorcerer (across London from Friday 3rd November)
Having already previewed at the BFI a few weeks back, the 40th anniversary, 4K restoration of William Friedkin’s largely forgotten masterpiece finally gets a bigger bow across the city this week. Made on the coattails of Friedkin’s Oscar-winning horror classic The Exorcist, Sorcerer (otherwise known as The Wages of Fear, the title given to the original French film from the 1950s) famously premiered against the original Star Wars in 1977 and surprise surprise, ended up as a bit of a box-office flop.
It’s a fairly straight-forward set-up – a group of down-and-out men hiding out in South America are finally given a shot at redemption. The kicker being their only hope is to transport a dangerous amount of highly-explosive nitroglycerin, in rickety trucks through treacherous jungle terrain. The result is arguably one of the tensest movies ever made, and with Ben Wheatley circling an all-female remake, there’s never been a better time to get better acquainted with this 70s-era masterwork.
Murder on the Orient Express (across London from Friday 3rd November)
And finally, just to keep things the tiniest bit commercial – Friday sees the release of Kenneth Branagh’s seriously star-studded update of the Agatha Christie classic mystery. Lead by Branagh himself as the self-confessed “greatest detective in the world” Hercule Poirot (complete with an already hugely-divisive choice of moustache) and backed up by (deep breath): Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr. and Willem Dafoe, it’s a proper big-budget re-imagining of possibly the most famous murder mystery of all time.
I mean, try to say no to that ridiculous cast. And with Branagh’s sure-fire directing, and a script from Logan and Blade Runner 2049’s Michael Green, we could well have another Hollywood hit on our hands.
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