Loki moves into a class-stratified apartment building topped by The Architect Jeremy Irons, and it quickly goes to hell. There’s lots of drinking & smoking & cocaine & sex (with Baroness Sienna Miller) above, while the lower floors lose power and their composure. Belatedly the movie tries to tell us who is whose secret mistress or absentee father, but we’ve lost interest in personal details by that point. Not a dystopian-universe Snowpiercer thing like I expected from reading some Ballard stories – the world outside the apartment seems mostly unaffected.

I liked Pontypoolian Luke “Not Chris” Evans as pregnant Elisabeth Moss’s shithead-turned-documentarian husband. Some okay music choices too, like closing with The Fall’s Industrial Estate, and an upper-class chamber version of Abba’s S.O.S. (later, the sadsack Donnie Darko version doesn’t work as well)

Evans:

Tom Charity in Cinema Scope:

Seizing on the delightfully oxymoronic possibilities of an apocalyptic period film, Wheatley has retained the ’70s period trappings … Yet the movie feels of our time too, immediate, or perhaps imminent, a flash-forward (not backwards) to a present tense we already know in our bones: savage, chaotic, cannibalistic, and doomed. As Ballard puts it, it exists in “a future that had already taken place, and was now exhausted.”

Aging couple has run a close-knit drug operation for many years. The week after patriarch Bill and emotionally unstable son Karl get out of jail, Karl finds out his girlfriend is pregnant and Bill shakes up his friends, ends up killing most of them, trying to determine if someone ratted. Low-key movie with nice gradual escalation into ultra-violence. Cowriter Robin Hill plays Karl, his dad Robert Hill plays his dad, his wife Kerry Peacock plays his girlfriend and the great Julia Deakin (Marsha from Spaced) is his mom. Good supporting cast including Wheatley regular Michael Smiley and Tony Way (Edge of Tomorrow, Nine Inch Nails-shirted guy in Dragon Tattoo).

Twisty ending as Karl and gf kill the parents and make their escape. A family and friends affair – Wheatley and Robin say on the commentary that it was even shot in Robin’s parents’ house. They say the concept was to write a dark drama then cast funny people in it (there’s a fair bit of improv in the dialogue).

I guess I’ve seen all Wheatley’s films until High-Rise comes out in a few months. He also wrote for Time Trumpet, directed special-effects sketch show The Wrong Door and some episodes of drug-dealer comedy Ideal. Robin Hill edited Poldark, which I think Katy was watching downstairs while I watched this.

Series of short twist-ending horrorshows. Quality was higher than I predicted. I watched in small batches over the course of the month – this 2+ hour collection is probably more wearying to watch all at once.

Apocalypse
Woman violently kills her husband, apologizes for not doing it more peacefully but she’d run out of time due to impending apocalypse. Nacho Vigalondo also directed the fun Timecrimes.

Bigfoot
Babysitters make up story of Mexico City heart-eaters. Story is true! Babysitters’ hearts are eaten, little girl lives. I must’ve missed where Bigfoot came in. Adrián García Bogliano made last year’s Here Comes the Devil.

Cycle
Doppelganger strangles his other, ad nauseum. Reliant on shock music. Ernesto Díaz Espinoza is known for action stuff like Kiltro and Mirageman.

Dogfight
Slow-mo, dialogue-free man-vs-dog underground fighting ring. Marcel Sarmiento made a good-sounding abandoned-asylum movie called Deadgirl.

Exterminate
Lazy dude keeps getting bitten by the same spider. We see the dude from spider POV sometimes. Then baby spiders hatch from his ear. Not as good as the Creepshow episode. Angela Bettis is a Lucky McKee collaborator, directing Roman and playing the lead in May.

Fart
The one about Japanese girls farting. Nothing to see here. Keep moving. Noboru Iguchi also made Zombie Ass and Bad Butt – I am sensing a trend.

Gravity
Surfer with first-person camera dies. Not as good as the Cuaron version. Andrew Traucki made a shark movie called The Reef.

Hydro-Electric Diffusion
Live-action cartoon WWII soldier dog fights nazi stripper fox. Even better than it sounds! Thomas Cappelen Malling’s only other credit is Norwegian Ninja.

Ingrown
Kidnapped, tied-up girl is injected with Cabin Fever virus, dies. Awful high-pitched whine on the soundtrack. This is the worst. Jorge Michel Grau did the well-reviewed We Are What We Are.

Jidai-Geki
Executioner cannot focus on his head-chopping job because the dude committing harakiri keeps making funny faces. Yudai Yamaguchi worked on Tokyo Gore Police, directed two comedy-horror baseball movies and something called Meatball Machine.

Klutz
Animation is nice but it’s about a sentient, murderous piece of poop. Anders Morgenthaler made the enjoyable Princess.

Libido
New definition of torture-porn? Jackoff competition, loser is killed with a stake up the ass. One guy makes it to round 14 then finds himself on the wrong end of the contest as a girl has sex with him while chainsawing him to death. Odd. Timo Tjahjanto made the suicide/devil-cult segment of V/H/S/2.

Miscarriage
The shortest segment, and nearly the second in a row to be toilet-based. Ti West has been all the rage since House of the Devil.

Nuptials
Huge relief because it stars a colorful parrot who does not get killed or hurt. Talking parrot gives away dude’s affair during his proposal, he gets knifed. Banjong Pisanthanakun made horrors Shutter and Alone.

Orgasm
The great Cattet & Forzani explore new realms of color and slow-motion with a woman receiving oral sex and blowing soap bubbles. I hope they make another movie soon.

Pressure
Prostitute in financial trouble accepts job to be videotaped stomping kittens to death. Kinda the saddest one. Simon Rumley is known for Red White & Blue and The Living and the Dead.

Quack
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett decide their segment will stand out for featuring a real death, and plan to kill a caged duck on camera, but they don’t know how guns work and end up shooting each other. By far this is my favorite Wingard movie.

Removed
Hospital prisoner/patient has valuable movie film under his skin, but also has subcutaneous bullets for self-defense. Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat features prominently, and it rains blood at the end. Hunh? Srdjan Spasojevic’s only other credit is snuff-movie thriller A Serbian Film.

Speed
Notably bad acting and editing. Mad Max dystopia turns out to be fantasies of dying druggies. Jake West does DVD-extra docs for horror movies including the feature Phantasmagoria on the Phantasm series.

Toilet
Fantastic claymation. I was nervous since this is the third toilet-based short in the series but it’s completely wonderful. Lee Hardcastle has 20 credits from the last 3 years, and they’re all clay remakes of horror movies.

Unearthed
Death of a vampire, from the vampire’s first-person perspective, in just a few takes. I’ve seen most of Ben Wheatley’s movies, most recently A Field in England.

Vagitus
Sci-fi population-control short looks ike a video game cutscene, super slick, no idea what happened because I turned the volume down but someone was executed in the name of the government and someone else exploded. Kaare Andrews is the second director here after Ti West to have made a Cabin Fever sequel.

WTF!
Brief Metalocalypse-looking animation becomes making-of segment, freewheeling live-action ideas that start with W (includes an Insane Clown Posse magnets reference), then the whole thing turns brutally insane and hilarious. Jon Schnepp directs/designs/edits Metalocalypse.

XXL
French people super-taunt an overweight girl until she goes home and cuts herself thin with knives. Xavier Gens made Frontier(s).

Youngbuck
School janitor is a pedophile, a young victim takes revenge. No spoken dialogue, set to upbeat 1980’s montage music. Jason Eisener made Hobo with a Shotgun and Slumber Party Alien Abduction.

Zetsumetsu
Dr. Strangelove-referencing nazi race-war sex-melee dystopia, ending the anthology in an orgy of bad taste. Yoshihiro Nishimura directed Tokyo Gore Police, obviously.

“Beer has its own way of sorting things out.”

Julian Barratt (Mighty Boosh’s Howard Moon) seeks Whitehead, is looking for a field, then abruptly dies. Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith, a lead in The League of Gentlemen series) will be our movie’s lead coward, joining with some companions in a field in the midst of a filthy war in search of his dead master’s nemesis O’Neil, who stole some papers I guess.

Companions: hood-wearing Friend (that’s his name, took me all movie to figure it out) played by Richard Glover (minor role in Sightseers) with a great low voice, wide-hatted Cutler (Ryan Pope of TV’s Ideal), Jacob (Peter Ferdinando of serial killer movie Tony). They finally find O’Neil (Michael Smiley, the lead guy’s co-hitman in Kill List) at the end of a long rope (?) and a struggle ensues.

The point is less the war, the companions, the stolen papers and struggle than the weird ride. There’s a game of tug-o-war vs. mystical forces, poop humor, many mushrooms are consumed, Whitehead fasts then vomits runestones and the dead don’t stay dead. Maybe it’s Jodorowsky-influenced, seeming mythical without making any proper sense.

Set during the English Civil War, 1650ish, which reportedly caused some trouble coming up with period-appropriate words. The dialogue is great when you can make it out, which we couldn’t on my dad’s surround system (was fine in headphones). Writer Amy Jump and cinematographer Laurie Rose also worked on the other two.

A murderous road comedy. So far Wheatley is living up to the hype, even if I wasn’t thrilled by the ending of Kill List – this was fully excellent, with much more interesting filmmaking than most comedies. Beardy Chris and girlfriend Tina go on a sightseeing tour and accidentally kill a guy… then they just keep killing people.

Made myself a note while watching that this should be some sort of baseline for filmmakers. Got a screenplay and want to shoot it. Watch Sightseers. Think you can do better? No? Then just quit now.

“Murderer.”
“It was an accident, mum.”
“So were you.”

“I don’t think I could cope without potpourri”

“Did you kill Ian?”
“Yeah. Well, I mean…”

“Season of the Witch” plays over two killing scenes. Chris and Tina were also the screenwriters. Tina is Alice Lowe: Liz from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, also in My Life in Film and Hot Fuzz (worked for Timothy Dalton at the supermarket). Wheatley already has a new movie out, which I must see.

Mouse-over image to see Tina’s owl face:

“I just want to be feared and respected.”

This succeeded as a horror movie because, even though I accurately predicted the final twist (the “hunchback”), I found the whole thing increasingly unsettling, to the point that the climactic flashlit race through dark tunnels was much freakier than it should have been.

Jay is a family man with a son, a pretty Swedish wife (Myanna Buring of The Descent), and a bit of a temper – possibly something to do with his former job running security in Bagdad? He’s hot and cold with his old buddy Gal (Michael Smiley, a raver in Spaced) and Gal’s new gal Fiona, a “human resources” person (she fires people).

I carefully avoided learning anything about the movie’s plot before watching, had no idea that Jay and Gal make their living as hit men. So I’m adding up facts and impressions from these initial scenes, probably needlessly. Why does Jay cook and eat a rabbit he finds dead in the yard? Is it important that the wife is Swedish, also with a military past? Why does Gal keep bringing up that Fiona is a “demon in bed”? I suppose the demon thing ties into the rest, since she turns out to be part of the weird cult that enlists the men for a murder spree.

Victims, preceded by title cards: first, The Priest, who seems grateful to be executed. Why does Gal make a sign of the cross before the execution, when Jay’s wife had earlier forbidden prayer at the dinner table and the men had raged at some campfire-singalong Christians at the hotel? Next: The Librarian, whom they torture after discovering he’s got a child-porn collection, but still manages to thank them (to Jay: “Does he know who you are? . . . Glad to have met you.”) before death by hammer. Next: The MP, but while they camp outside his house, a wicker cult parades through the woods.

Chase ensues through the catacombs, many culties are shot, and Gal doesn’t make it. Outside, Jay is captured, spun around and made to fight “the hunchback”.

1. Earlier on their mission he saw Fiona outside.
2. Fiona has been paying frequent visits to Jay’s house while the men were away, even though Gal claims he broke up with her.
3. I’ve seen movies before.
So yeah, I figured out “the hunchback.”

God forbid everything should be overexplained in a horror movie (you hear me, Rob Zombie?) but this one goes beyond a sense of mystery, ending abruptly after this final one-sided knife fight. The cult’s goal isn’t just to fuck with some poor guy and make him kill his family – Jay is implied to be some sort of demonic chosen one (the victims “recognized” him). But I hope the next step is to sacrifice the guy, because I don’t know how they expect to convince him that this was all an initiation ritual and now he needs to become their king or whatever. Instead I think they’ll end up with one angry, revenge-seeking professional killer.

A. Nayman

… a dual shift from a vague but comprehensible narrative about a pair of ex-military men-turned-contract-killers on assignment into an insane pagan scenario, and also from a skillfully wrought realist presentation into something wholly hallucinatory. Trying to pinpoint the exact moment of this slippage is next to impossible, because Wheatley has designed the film so that the two modes complement and even heighten one another. There are trace elements of the first half’s nervy naturalism in the crazed climax just as surely as tuned-in viewers will sense something uncanny intruding on those early everyday passages. In lieu of any sort of trendy bifurcation, Wheatley bleeds it all together.