2016: January

Grab ’em by the puritancals…

2016 certainly happened, didn’t it? Ignoring a global lurch to the right wing and the bold rebirth of European nationalism, it happened on screens as well. Here’s the first part of a review of the year with highlights of the films I actually managed to watch. Read it.

It is, at the very least, well intentioned.

JANUARY

In January every film in the month cowered beneath the ongoing monster profitability of Star Wars, it is also the early year funk for cinema attendances so you can bury your dirty shite in the release schedule and hope that enough people are sick of their family to go and see it. Along with February it’s also awards season, so everyone is presumably busy watching the worthy nominees from the previous year.

This January Michael Bay continued to toss the salad of the American military with the release of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, probably in exchange for more borderline pornographic hardware fetishism in the next Transformers advert. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube teamed up again for Ride Along 2 but they make better appearances on talk shows than films (but Ice Cube continues his amazing box office achievements though – people love watching this guy get angry) and Robert De Niro continued to make the kind of choices (with Dirty Grandpa) that cause people like me to wonder what was it that happened on the set of Heat that stopped him from making good things.

Also out this month were: Kung Fu Panda 3, where the stylised action makes up for the fact that the unending parade of TALKING FUCKING ANIMALS continues to, err.. un-end; Jane Got a Gun, which took a fine triumvirate of talent in director Gavin O’Connor, writer Joel Egerton and star Natalie Portman, a genre I love (Western), and delivered a disappointingly flat revenge Western; and The Witch.

The best release of January is my first FILM(s) OF THE YEAR, Robert Eggers’ The Witch, or ‘The VVitch’ (for reasons beyond me, just go all in and call it ‘Ye Olde VVytch’). Creeping dread, puritanical religion, damp rural setting, isolation, viscera, misery and the creepiest goat you’ve ever laid eyes on – it’s everything you could want on a frigid winter’s eve. If you want grisly folk horror nastiness on a micro-budget, some very odd accents and a truly astonishing goat.

I’m serious, that goat is not right. Just look at the fucker…

Black Philip. If he offers to ‘guide your hand’, politely decline.

The film itself, goat aside, is an unnerving experience. Calling to mind British folk horror classics like Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan’s Claw – which is no mean feat. It allows you to doubt yourself, to doubt the characters, and to doubt what their own eyes are seeing. It is in this doubt that the horror lives. It fractures the family and they start to turn on each other. You begin to suspect them all. Even the goat. Especially the goat. Stop looking at me goat. STOP IT.

Anyway, watch The Witch, and don’t take my word for it, take the word of the Temple of Satan – they endorsed it.

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