Were you expecting some kind of Halloween related segment, well tough because ultimately you can watch horror movies at any time of the year as opposed to relegating a single day to discuss them all. What I am going to discuss today though is the best and worst movies of October. Sadly this month hasn’t been as promising as it could have been, with many seemingly promising productions coming to a frustratingly disappointing result, from a psychological thriller starring Emily Blunt that turned out to be as dull as dishwater, to a Tom Cruise action vehicle that felt like a ‘Mission: Impossible’ film if you put exactly half the effort into it.
That being said, when this month hit its high points they were some of the highest points of the year so far, with the big studios, independent and foreign markets all delivering some truly amazing entries. In fact for what feels like the first time in ages I even have an honourable mention outside of the usual top three, with ‘In a Valley of Violence’ being worth some recognition. But now the best three.
3: The Girl with all the Gifts
The first zombie film in years that actually manages to expand upon the genre and carve a fresh identity in the sea of oversaturation that is the market today. Despite taking familiar elements of its predecessors the way it spins them into a more socially conscious story that ignites our deepest fears of imprisonment, warfare and environmental change, as well as throwing us, head first, into a more disconcerting scenario with some harder edges to deal with. It is genuinely difficult to believe the film’s miniscule budget due to how excellent Colm McCarthy’s direction is, and the director expertly uses his apocalypse as a backdrop for his own claustrophobic and personally intimate thriller.
2: Doctor Strange
Marvel’s psychedelic trip into a new dimension may have the outlines of their standard cinematic stories, but the unique style and vision that lies within ‘Doctor Strange’ is able to distinguish it as a unique and fantastic entry to the franchise. Not only is the film creative and innovative on a visual level, but its action scenes are all wonderfully and intriguingly crafted as well, with director Scott Derrickson using the Marvel platform to unleash his own trippy sensibilities. Surrounded by a magnificent the supporting cast of Mads Mikkleson, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton, in the titular role Benedict Cumberbatch makes Stephen Strange completely and utterly his own, and I look forward to seeing his interactions with the rest of Marvel’s rostra in the future.
1: Under the Shadow
It is rare for a horror movie to feel as socially and culturally relevant as Babak Anvari’s astonishingly crafted tale of supernatural entities invading a war torn household. It uses its scenario to reflect the fears and trepidations of its central characters, as well as a soul wrenching metaphor for the culture she inhabits. Blending both neo-realism and nightmarish style, Anvari is somehow able to balance both tones perfectly, and make them feel so heavily intertwined that it is hard to imagine the movie working with a single misplaced aspect. It also helps that it is unnerving to say the least, with the sound design, cinematography and central performers all being used to great effect to generate a sense of sheer and utter entrapment.
And the worst…..
The question of why anyone is bothering to keep this franchise afloat in this day and age is impossible to answer, and the only question that can generate an equal amount of confusion is how they were able to convince talents like Ron Howard and Tom Hanks to sign up for it again. Actually a more confusing prospect would be trying to decipher any of the convoluted, exposition heavy, intellectually insulting plot points of this film. Sadly not even Hanks or Howard can save this sinking ship and we can only hope that an inferno is where this franchise will be cast to next.