Dour, thy name is ‘The Ritual’

Really, “The Ritual” has an identity problem: is it a monster flick smart enough to look original but too dumb to work? Or is it a coming-of-age story for four friends whose trauma keeps them apart?

“Train to Busan” plows ahead at all costs

Zombies have been done time again and again. “Maggie” and “World War Z,” while not great, managed to inject some originality into the genre....

“Moloch Tropical” doesn’t reach its ambitions

TV movies rightfully get a bad wrap. The Lifetime television network alone deserves a separate section at the Razzie awards. But, disproving the notion...

Despite predicability, “Goodnight Mommy” terrifies

Title: “Goodnight Mommy” Director: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala Release date: Jan. 8, 2015 Genre: Horror Country: Austria Rating: 4 out of 5Let's get this out of the way: “Goodnight...

‘Beyond the Black Rainbow’ is beautiful, empty

Title: Director: Country: Release date: Rating: "Beyond the Black Rainbow" Panos Cosmatos Canada December 31, 2010 3/5 stars The annals of sci-fi are haunted by the campiness, and occasional genius, of the ‘70s and...

Thrilling and complex, “7 Años” spares no one

Title: “7 Años” Director: Roger Gual Release date: Oct. 28, 2016 Genre: Crime drama Country: Spain Rating: 4 out of 5 Stick five desperate people in a room and...

By putting characters first, ‘Ixcanul’ becomes a transcendental experience

Guatemalan drama starts slow, surprises later with its striking characters and deemphasized setting

‘I’m Not Scared’ lives up to its name

Sometimes it’s fun to watch a movie fall apart, but those movies usually start out with no promise of getting better. “I’m Not Scared” is the opposite. The first act is foreboding and feels like Hitchcock at his best, but the final two thirds feel like a “Downhill” slide.

“Childish Games” is a treat for horror fans

Title: Director: Country: Genre: Release date: Rating: "Childish Games" Antonio Chavarrias Spain Horror March 9, 2012 4/5 Taking “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt” to the extreme, the compact Spanish thriller, “Childish Games”...

“Rams” is tragicomedy at its bleakest

Icelandic humor has got to be the darkest kind of humor out there. Looking at the country's history, it makes sense: in around 1260,...

‘Come Out and Play’ fails to justify its existence

In an impressive feat, “Come Out and Play” manages to destroy viewers’ sympathy and investment within the first 15 minutes. How is this accomplished?...

Despite a valiant effort, ‘Extraordinary Tales’ falls flat

It’s hard to add to an artistic legacy like Edgar Allen Poe’s. The first adaptation of his work was released over 100 years ago,...

Darkness reigns in ‘Burke and Hare’

Getting by is hard. This adage is so true in the British dark comedy “Burke and Hare” that it drives the titular characters to...

‘The Quiet Earth” is Sci-Fi done right

Title: Director: Country: Release date: Rating: "The Quiet Earth" Geoff Murphy New Zealand October 18, 1985 4/5 The best science fiction embraces its premise. This is clear 20 minutes into “The Quiet Earth,” when...

‘Hounds of Love’ should have had a tighter leash

For all its earnest intensity, “Hounds of Love” has remarkably boring stretches. I was puzzled by those moments because everything on-screen was important and...

Looking back on ‘The Clone Returns Home’ and the Foreign Film Fanatic

Five years ago, “The Clone Returns Home” was the first movie I reviewed for this column. And as a movie about returns to life,...

‘Only God Forgives’ is incoherent and tantalizing

Rating: 3/5Title: Only God ForgivesDirector: Nicolas Winding RefnRelease date: May 30, 2013Genre: ThrillerCountry: DenmarkDirector Nicolas Winding Refn creates worlds of color. The characters in...

Incompetency reigns in the Spanish hodgepodge ‘The Invisible Guardian’

“The Invisible Guardian” is another banal crime thriller slapped together with all the good pieces of better crime thrillers.

‘Bad Guy’ meditates on evil, mixed results

Title: “Bad Guy” Director: Ki-duk Kim Release date: Feb. 11, 2005 Genre: Drama Country: South Korea Rating: 3/5 Some people are just born evil. As for the wordless sociopath at...

‘In Bruges’ is impossibly poignant

It is said that on the final day, the Son of Man will return to earth and separate the good from the evil, the...

Every opportunity ‘The Windmill’ has, it squanders

It’s rare to have a slasher so frontloaded with exposition that it feels rushed in its last half, but here we have “The Windmill,”...

‘Night of the Wild Boar?’ More like ‘Night of the Wild Bore’

Sitting through “Night of the Wild Boar” is like walking on cold coals: by the end, you’ve overcome no obstacle and just end up with dirty feet.

The classic sci-fi sensibility of ‘The Similars’ is impossible to resist

Director Isaac Ezban has a deep love for form, stretching a shallow plot to its absolute limit and driving his characters insane in the process. Watching them break down in the midst of some kind of invasion is a joy, and getting wrapped up in the chaos is inevitable.

Once is never enough for the murky thriller ‘Bluebeard’

Like the great crime thrillers “Bluebeard” tries to be, it leaves you with more questions than answers. Unlike those same movies, however, it’s not smart enough to let viewers come up with the answers.

‘The Second Woman’ doesn’t trust its audience

Watching “The Second Woman” is a bizarre experience. To begin with, it's bad with some good sprinkled on. The good is that it's very...

When ‘Magical Girl’ relaxes, it captivates

By the climax, Vermut threatens to overstate his point, but he gets engrossed in his story instead and lets it breathe.

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies’ is hilarious, drags on

Ian Fleming brought James Bond into existence in 1953, but French author Jean Bruce cranked out no less than 88 espionage pulp novels about...

With “The Wailing,” a new classic is born

As I see it, there are two stages to watching a great movie: recognition and surrender. Recognition is simply knowing you’re watching something great,...

‘Brazil’ is dystopian at its best

  Title: Brazil Release date: Feb. 20, 1985 Director: Terry Gilliam Genre: Sci-Fi Country: United Kingdom Rating: 4 out of 5   Every single bureaucrat and piece of technology in Terry Gilliam’s...

Revenge is cold as can be in ‘Bad Day for the Cut’

Nigel O’Neill leads the pack as protagonist Donal, the fiercely loyal son of Florence (Stella McCusker) who fills his days looking after his mother and their farm. One night, he drinks himself to sleep and wakes up to see a “fancy sort of boy” and his shadowy associate leaving his home. Inside, he finds his mother bludgeoned to death on the carpet, her mantle clock as the murder weapon.