Category Archives: thriller

Shadow Conspiracy – Georges P. Cosmatos (1997)

A typical, yet descent, spy action thriller for its time.

Bobby Bishop (Charlie Sheen) is a rapidly rising star in American politics. Under the tutelary of Jacob Conrad (Donald Sutherland) he became senator and special adviser of the president.

Then suddenly he becomes the subject of a violent hunt. Chased by a contract killer and later all federal forces, Bishop tries to figure out who is behind it all.

Willard – Glen Morgan (2003)

The film starts in a promising way. After the amusing (but rather long) opening credits, the first scenes suggest that this will be a weird and gloomy comedy reminding of the films of Jeunet.

Willard from the title is a nerdy man living with his elderly mother and working for an asshole boss who now runs the company that Willard’s father founded. He grows a friendship with the rats in his basement. A white rat he calls “Socrates” who becomes his only friend. A big, grey rat is (Big) Ben.

The concept soon runs off to silly, even childish scenes with rat training and eventually Willard terrorizing his boss with his rats. Then Ben starts to turn against Willard. In big steps the film runs away from what I like and it turns out to be quite awful. The stars below are mostly for the first 10 minutes.

Let Me Make You A Martyr – Corey Asraf & John Swab (2016)

A moody drama thriller in which for a reason that eludes me, a man returns to his drug abusing town after six years. He is not exactly welcomed with open arms.

He looks up old friends and foes apparently looking for something, but on his departure he took something himself making him a wanted man too. His foster father even hires the contract killer Pope to get rid of him.

Now Pope is played by Marilyn Manson which is the main reason why this film gets the attention that is gets. It must be said: Manson is casted perfectly and he plays his part convincingly.

The film is a little big vague and weird here and there. Perhaps that is the reason it is only rated 4.8 on IMDb. Personally I found the film quite good. The music is well done and the atmosphere is good. Not every actor is as good as the next, but hey, this is an independent film.

Certainly not bad.

The Caveman’s Valentine – Kasi Lemmons (2001)

Produced by Samuel L. Jackson and having him in the lead part. I guess Jackson really wanted to make this film.

He plays a once promising piano player who lost his mind and went to live in a cave in a park in New York. When he finds the body of a young man, he starts to investigate the murder, both aided and thwarted by his paranoid mind with its vision and inner voices.

Of course Jackson can play a mad man, but he also has to perform some drama which worked out less good. Even though the story is somewhat amusing at times, the obligatory unexpected plot twist towards the end is rather thin.

The Traveller – Michael Oblowitz (2010)

On a rainy Christmas eve a man walks into a police station saying that he killed six men. After some initial chaos the man is detained and the men present start to try to figure out what is what.

The film has got quite a cast. Val Kilmer, John Cassini, Paul McGillon. Kilmer is quite unrecognizable as the alleged killer. The entire film he tries to look tough, but this only works in a handful of scenes.

The story is not that bad and the film has got some descent tension here and there, making an alright ‘supernatural thriller’ that deserves a bit more credit than the 4.1 on IMDb, but on the other hand, it is far from a masterpiece. I give it a:

You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsay (2017)

A great, slow, minimalist and gloomy thriller with a magnificent Joaquin Phoenix as psychologically damaged contract killer Joe who looks quite a bit like Thomas Ekelund of Trepaneringsritualen.

Joe is hired to find the daughter of a politician and wanders into the dark world of child prostitution. He is not exactly an easy person himself. Flashbacks suggest that this has something to do with his childhood, especially his relation with his father, but this is not really worked out.

The film has a very nice and weird soundtrack and a very good atmosphere.

Amnesiac – Michael Polish (2014)

And yet again I got a film with a different title. “Unconscious” my film is called. It is a not too strong film in which a man finds himself in a strange bedroom after a car crash, taken care of by a beautiful woman who says she is his wife. But is she?

I guess you can guess the rest of the story. A drama goes over in a thriller with a theme that has been shown a couple of times more. An attempt as a surprise is made at the end.

Brimstone – Martin Koolhoven (2016)

In the days the Dutch have just settled America we find a young midwife who has a child-birth go wrong. Everybody seems to think she is a witch and especially the newly arrived pastor (a great Guy Pierce) seems ominous.

Liz and the pastor appear to have a past which is further elaborated in the second part of the film. An unexpected plot-line unfolds which is explained more in the third part. This is wonderfully done.

“Brimstone” shows early American settlers of the extremely religious type and well shows the pressure this religion brought, or at least, how it was used. The story-line of Liz and the pastor makes a gloomy red thread through the film which culminates in a fourth part which wraps up the story.

Taking two-and-a-half hours the Dutch director tells his horrible story in a great, international way, giving both an idea of these days, its religion and telling a story of tension.

A Dark Song – Liam Gavin (2016)

A young woman has a wish and to fulfill it, she turns to Solomonic magic. It was not entirely clear to me what her aim was (she says something different a few times), but I do wonder how an inexperienced person would come up with a months-long (!!) ritual spending tens of thousands of dollars for a need. Would most people not just get one of these ‘magic in five minutes’ type books? Well, her son was killed by black magic, perhaps that is why.

We first see Sophia looking for a proper place which became a massive and remote mansion. Then she has to find an experienced magician who she finds in Joseph Solomon. The film soon plunges into the ritual itself.

What is not too common is that the magic is shown pretty much without prejudice, highlighting some of the concepts and ways of working and showing the amount of work and preparation needed. Then again, when the magic is supposed to be based on the magical books ascribed to Solomon and/or Abramelin then why not just use the imaginary that can be found in hundreds of freely available books and on the internet? Joseph’s books look like something wholly different and he even paints Chinese characters on Sophia’s body. Furthermore, Solomonic rituals can be extensive, but six to eight months and covering several rooms plus preparations?

That said, we follow Sophia and Joseph trying to work their way through their massive ritual which is built of smaller rituals and purifications. They argue and fight like a couple and the viewer is mostly left out of the magic. Towards the end the film does work towards that angle, but then it is fairly corny horror.

“A Dark Song” is to some extent interesting when we follow the two people preparing, performing and discussing the ritual. These parts are a bit too thin and other elements are just not good enough. The 6.1 on is not far off in my opinion. I would bring the average a bit down with my….: