Man Vs (2015)


Color me surprised, folks. This one is good.

I wasn’t expecting much from the trailer and pretty much put Man Vs on this afternoon just for something to play in the background while I worked. But goddamn, this movie snuck up on me. Though more of a collection of homages to older movies (saying which would give away plot elements), Man Vs is cleverly built, well paced, and self contained. It doesn’t feel the need to add unessisary elements or flashy editing; what you see is what you get. But what you get is something interesting.

This is a film made by people who love films and filmmaking. It’s a solid craft piece, well shot, solidly constructed, and I’m struggling to come up with things to say about it that won’t ruin the plot twist. I firmly believe this film does its best work with a cold audience and was pleasantly surprised to find I loved the damn thing after I watched it. Chris Diamantopoulos gives a flippant but surprisingly human performance as the movie’s protagonist, a TV survivalist who sets out in the Canadian wilderness and gets far more than he bargained for. His is a more laid-back performance, but I enjoyed the interplay of a character who knows he’s performing who is suddenly forced to go off script when the situation flies off the walls.

Quite honestly, saying much more about the film would give away too much. It’s small but self-contained, and knows what it’s doing. I’ll be getting a copy of this movie for my library.


Get Out (2017)

Folks, the year is still young, but I would say we have a contender for best horror film of 2017. We got outstanding performances from the entire cast, but special mention should be given to Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Betty Gabriel. Jordan Peele produced an outstanding and incredibly tight script, filled with metaphor and historical references, each of them carefully thought out and placed deliberately for maximum impact. There’s comedy, horror, the best and worse of human nature, a protagonist that the audience can connect and empathize with, moments of horror, misunderstanding, and beautiful camera work. Get Out utilizes every actor, set piece, and camera angle for maximum impact. It has one of the tightest and most professional looking productions that I’ve seen in years and it’s obvious that a great deal of thought went into every aspect, from the casting to the sound design. This does not feel like a directorial debut, and promises good things to come from Jordan Peele’s work in the future.

There isn’t much I can say without getting into spoilers, and I do believe Get Out has a stronger impact with an audience that goes in cold, but this film is incredibly well made. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it turning up on college syllabi in a year or so as an example of what genre filmmaking can accomplish when it’s crafted thoughtfully. The great joy of genre work – and horror specifically – is that it allows the audience to dip their toes into situations that scare them and come out the other side unharmed. No matter what happens to the characters in the film, the audience survives. And in some ways, the audience wins. They have faced their fear – be it giant monsters, a serial killer in a mask, or the more abstracted anxiety about what might be hiding in the dark – and by making it to the end of the story, they have both engaged with and conquered that fear.

That being said, the majority of protagonists – the characters that the audience is meant to connect and empathize with – who view the tragedy and endure whatever scary things the movie throws at them, are generally straight white men. (Slasher films, with their iconic Final Girls, are another matter all together). There have been exceptions over the years, but as with the majority of Hollywood films, American horror tends toward the experiences of the straight, white middle class. This makes it a wonderful place to subvert those trends using the very same tropes that define the genre.

Let’s back up a step. Horror films, like any work of genre filmmaking, are easily recognizable as such – usually within the first scene. Our protagonist is put in a situation of peril and must either rise above their fear or then succumb to it. The threats are marked and recognizable to the audience if not the characters themselves and so viewers can always place themselves within a film. The villains will be recognizably sinister, basements and attics will inevitably become a small, homegrown version of hell. It’s a tried and true formula, well known even to those who don’t pay much attention to the genre. So well known, in fact, that it only takes a few changes to subvert the dominant narrative and add something unexpected to the story.

The genius of Get Out is that, quite simply, it’s a horror film that forces the audience to empathize with its protagonist. It sounds simple until you realize that Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris is a careful rebuttal of nearly every stereotype of black masculinity commonly portrayed in horror. Far from being the implacable bruiser, Chris is a thoughtful artist, uneasy and alienated within his surroundings, and – most importantly – openly fearful. He is a human being first and foremost, and his sense of isolation and confusion make him an empathetic one. Quite simply, this is not a course generally taken with black characters in horror. Chris is shown to be afraid because he is in a frightening situation. And in a better world, this wouldn’t be a radical notion at all.

As the stakes heighten and the true horror of his situation begins to dawn on Chris, he seeks out comfort and understanding from the few non-white characters he encounters, looking for common ground and never quite finding it. A white audience member might never have experienced this feeling before, but the film forces them to identify with the acute alienation and melancholy that Chris feels; he wants to belong and feel comfortable with these people, but cannot. His blackness is seen as a commodity to literally be bought and sold; his personhood is secondary, if it is recognized at all.

Get Out isn’t the first horror film to look at race as a commodity that can be taken, discounting the personhood of whoever the current victim happens to be. However, Get Out is the first one of these films that I’ve seen to look at it from a non-white perspective. The Skeleton Key (2005) and Jessebelle (2014) both concern victims of racial violence (a lynching and a hate crime respectively) who seek out and attempt to take over the lives of the white protagonists. In these films, the villainous black characters literally possess the bodies of the white protagonists. These possessions, done through supernatural rather than medical means as in Get Out, are explicitly described as acts of cruelty and violence by antagonists who wish to “pass” as white and occupy “white” spaces in society. Get Out, by contrast, treats blackness as a commodity that can be bought by the white antagonists simply for aesthetics without digging into any of the racial baggage that would come with it; a literal form of blackface. Chris and the other victims are treated more like clothing than human beings – their experiences are moot and it is literally the appearance of their bodies – their hair, their strength, their supposed athletic abilities – that makes them valuable. The fear of the black presence infecting white bodies that Skeleton Key and Jessebelle are concerned with is simply not present in Get Out.


All and all, Get Out is an incredibly well made movie. 10/10, Jordan Peele should continue making horror films, and this one is worth a rewatch. I intend to get in on DVD and you should too.

Dawn of the Mummy (1981) – and let’s talk about Universal’s big old monster plan while we’re at it

In honor of all the monster movies that are scheduled to come out this year – The Mummy remake in June, King Kong tomorrow, Alien: Covenant in May, and several others I’ve doubtless forgotten – I decided to take a look at some older monster flicks that paved the way. This is also a way for me to shift into some thoughts about Universal’s planned series of shared-universe flicks, of which the upcoming Mummy remake is included, but I’ll get to that later.


Let’s talk about Dawn of the Mummy. It’s one of the lesser known mummy flicks, lacking the cult following of The Mummy (1991) or the balls-to-the-wall weirdness of Bubba Ho Tep (2003), but it exists and I saw it, so hey. Suffer with me.

I kid. Dawn of the Mummy is a campy ball of cheese, gleefully in love with the inherent sleaze of its own premise while still balking at anything too wild. It has the potential to slide into the world of grindhouse weirdness, with the world’s hammiest characters stuck in scenes with some of the world’s flattest, but never quite reaches that point. Despite the presence of models in-universe and several sex scenes, there’s a strange lack of nudity or indeed even the suggest of sexuality. It’s memorable more for how much potential it has and how little it delivers on its promises. Not that Dawn of the Mummy is awful on an objective level; it’s just boring. It wants to be a sleeze-fest but can’t commit to including enough gore or sex to actually do anything fun. The costumes are bland, the acting exactly what you’d expect from a low-budget 80s horror story, and the scenes are standard, though several suffer from poor lighting. It’s a by the numbers film in nearly every respect. You get what you pay for. In my case, it was an hour and change of my time spent clicking away pop-ups on YouTube.

So, basically nothing.

The story follows a group of models and an overly ambitious photographer bumbling around Cairo. Bored with the scenery, they decide to look for something “fresh” and decide that bothering the local tomb raiders, who have recently dynamited their way into the final resting place of an angry mummy, into sharing their space – and looted gold – with a group of beautiful models. Hilarity ensues. About the only memorable thing about Dawn of the Mummy is its odd instance that the mummies act like zombies – with an insatiable taste for human flesh. And decapitation, oddly. There are a lot of severed heads in this movie. I’m really not sure why.


Dawn of the Mummy is one of those films that, for better or worse, exists without being memorable on any level. Except for maybe the zombie-mummies. But hey, somebody thought it up, a lot of people worked hard to get it made, and it ought to be remembered. It’s part of a larger trend that’s been gaining traction in recent years as well, the revival of not only old horror films, but of mainstream filmmaking returning to old-school monster flicks. And pretty soon, we’re going to get our first taste of Universal’s Avengers-style collection of monster films.

So, let’s talk about that. Dracula Untold (2014) was originally supposed to the flagship film of the group, a fact that was apparently not revealed to the filmmakers until the shooting was nearly completed, but Universal has since backtracked and stated that nope, sorry, The Mummy will be the first after all. At the moment, the following monsters are slotted to get their own films: the Wolfman, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and something to do with Van Helsing. Will these films be any good? Honestly, it’s hard to tell. Dracula Untold was pretty but extremely uneven, and has since been cut from the lineup. Aside from the questionable decision to cast Tom Cruise, the trailers haven’t revealed a whole lot about The Mummy remake. And even if these films are passible on their own, how will they mesh as a group?

Again, it’s hard to tell. Marvel is the force to beat when it comes to the shared-universe experience and shows no signs of slowing down. What they’ve done is fairly unique as well, blending a multitude of characters, genres, tones, and styles under a single large – and very profitable – umbrella. DC has tried and failed to follow suit. And now Universal Studios is making a go at it.

Honestly, I’m a huge monster fan, so I’m pretty excited to see what comes out of this. If they stick to Marvel’s formula, that means Universal will be kicking out a bunch of monster films in a variety of styles with a few connecting threads and a whole shitload of money. Which is both a positive – more money means more risks can be taken for potentially greater payoff – but also a potential downfall. See, in my humble opinion, the best horror films – monsters or not – are subversive and touch on the darker sides of humanity. They go to the places that scare people and don’t bother making the experience pretty for the audience.

Mainstream films, especially those backed by large studios and even larger budgets, are trying to appeal to as many people as possible. And that, by definition, means they’re leery about taking risks.

Horror films that don’t take risks don’t tend to be all that interesting. For an example, follow The Mummy (1999) all the way down until The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire (2008). You start off with a cult classic that still holds its own more than a decade later and end with a film that’s an utter piece of shit, despite the valiant efforts of Michelle Yeon and Jet Li. Sometimes even great actors can’t save a shit movie from its own bad ideas and an overstuffed budget. In case anyone was wondering, The Mummy had a budget of $80,000,000 and Tomb of the Dragon Empire was packing a $145,000,000 wallop. Obviously the budget isn’t the only deciding factor in a film, but it’s worth noting in this case.

So, that’s a concern with Universal’s big old monster plan. Horror films are mean and nasty and to put it simply, I don’t see this series working unless they aim for the majority hitting an R-rating. Thus far, Dracula Untold is bringing it home at PG-13 and The Mummy hasn’t been given a rating. Could they follow Marvel’s lead again and have a bunch of different movies, some of which are kid friendly and some that decidedly aren’t? Sure! Anything is possible. But if these movies are going to be worthwhile, I do believe the majority of them are going to have to toe the line over what’s acceptable to mainstream audiences these days. And quite honestly, usually that involves an R-rating.

But I could be wrong. Who knows? Universal hasn’t revealed much about this project. Either way, I’m curious.

Bring it. I’ll be first in line buying tickets.

Horror As Resistance

I didn’t set out to write this sort of thing. This blog was supposed to be a way for me to put my ideas out into the world, the collected works I could point to whenever someone asked about my ideas on film and culture. This was supposed to be padding for my graduate school application. But we live in a tumultuous society and one that now – more than ever – demands that our voices either be heard or silenced completely. Though my reach is limited, I have the power to get my words out there. I am not risking my life for these words. I can do this one small thing and in honor of those who cannot, I feel that I have an obligation to try.

I want to tell you something, readers: you have been lied to. You have been told that you have no power and that your interest – even love – of horror storytelling and film has no meaning. At best, it’s a frivolous hobby. At worst, something ugly and deviant, a shameful pastime never to be mentioned out loud. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and effort arguing for the merits of horror and other types of genre storytelling, and I find myself compelled to do so once again right here, right now.

Friends, nothing you love is meaningless if it gives you strength. Through storytelling, human beings examine the what-if, the infinite possibilities of our world and all the worlds that might follow it. Through horror, we experience the abject and the strange. As an audience, we see our fears presented on screen and conquer them. Because the truth of every horror film is that no matter the plot, no matter the body count, no matter how vividly the nightmare is constructed, the audience always survives. Don’t you see? Every time, the audience faces down their fears and conquers them. The audience always survives. We’ve endured zombie plagues and serial killers, werewolves and demonic dolls, and none of them – not even the ghosts or their knives – could stop us. In their own small way, horror films have made survivors out of their audiences. And for me, that matters. If I can face catacombs and vampires and in doing so find the strength to resist misogyny in the wider world, then it hardly matters where that strength came from; only that it belongs to me, and I will not be quiet in possessing it.

What you love is not meaningless if it gives you strength. This is not to say that horror films are the unlikely cure for all the world’s ills or that they empowering to everyone in the same way. No, horror is merely a genre, a means of storytelling, and for good or ill, stories are not inherently anything. But if you can find strength in them or coopt them as a form of resistance, then they are not meaningless.

Find your stories. Find them in horror or comedy, find them in theater, film, or the graffiti at your bus stop; find your monsters and survive them. And know that by surviving them, you can survive the world.

What you love is not meaningless. What I love helps me endure.

The Good Neighbor (2016)

Hello, good readers. Some of you might have noticed my absence from the internet, though I imagine most of you are busy with your own lives and have no cause to think of mine. However, I have returned! In the haze of graduate school and political chaos, I live. I have returned to the world of horror criticism tinged with angry feminism. Witness me

And with that introduction, I return to the first review of 2017

The Good Neighbor starts out in the same vein as Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), the more recent Disturbia (2007), and other horror films about the complications of observing a stranger from a distance. Though its inspirations are clear, The Good Neighbor quickly evolves into something quite different. The premise is deceptively simple. Two teenagers, armed with an abundance of time and an absent father’s money, have decided to convince their cranky neighbor he’s being haunted through a combination of technology, special effects, and petty meanness. For posterity, they have broken into the old man’s house and rigged the entire thing with cameras – except for the basement, strangely the only room in the entire house with a lock on it. Hilarity ensues as the pranks and cruelty escalate. Exactly who is this old man? Who or what is locked in the basement? And exactly how many lines will these teenagers cross before they realize they’ve gone too far?

It’s a fun ride. The Good Neighbor has plenty of ideas it wants to work through and the patience to develop them in unexpected ways. Exactly who the “good guys” are in the story isn’t immediately apparent and the film makes great use of scenes where the characters misinterpreted what they see on film and run wild with the conclusions. In a lot of ways, The Good Neighbor is a story about the limitations of film, the conclusions we draw about strangers without knowing them, and – intentionally or otherwise – how devastating the narratives people construct about their lives can become if unchallenged

All and all, The Good Neighbors is a hell of a lot smarter than it looks. It’s tightly paced, well written, and doesn’t include anything excessive. Despite the premise, it’s a tight and sparing film, limiting itself to only three main locations. It does wonders with a sparse set, James Caan gave a wonderful and unexpected performance as the cranky neighbor, and its ending was beautiful and devastating in all the right places. The only complaint I have was that the timeline tends to jump around and while this works as a narrative device, the changes aren’t always clear, which leads to some confusion in a few scenes.

All and all, four stars. Go see this one. It deserves a watch.


Holidays (2016)


I’ll start this off by saying that there’s been a trend recently of making short horror films with a similar theme and then sticking them together into a single anthology, The ABCs of Death and V/H/S being the most prominent examples – and both with multiple, full-length films in each series. And while I’m hugely in favor of this trend, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s brought forth a mixed bag. It’s hard to call any of the anthologies good in their own right when the shorts are so radically different from each other. Each story has its own director and production team and despite sharing a general theme, rarely mesh well when shoved into a completed product. Some of the stories are brilliant, a few downright genius, most are decent, and a few are awful. It’s great that filmmakers have the opportunity to explore genre ideas like this – and, for those new to the business, a notch on their belt that doesn’t necessarily carry the financial burden of a feature length project – but again, just because two short films might be brilliant on their own merits doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily mesh when paired in an anthology. For better or worse, anthology films are a difficult beast to conquer and – regardless of the merits of the individual shorts – rarely come together in a cohesive way. It’s an endeavor that’s often undertaken and rarely successful.


Holidays is probably the first one that actually succeeds. Not only are each of its shorts well-made, strongly acted, and shot with a keen eye, as well as an appreciation for the horror genre, they actually fit together – visually, thematically, and tonally – as a cohesive whole. Despite not knowing the process behind its creation, it’s clear to me, as an observer, that the directors of the various shorts were in conversation with each other so that their projects wouldn’t look jarring when put together in the final product. To be sure, each story is self-contained and has its very own visual style – some weird, others conventional, and more than a few recovering a fairytale aesthetic rarely seen these days – the themes in each story complimented each other without creating continuity errors or WTF moments for the audience.


It’s hard for me to pick a favorite out of all the shorts here. Quite honestly, I liked all of them. St. Patrick’s Day blended balls to the wall weirdness with a genuine sense of uncertainty and empathy for its protagonist, Father’s Day ran miles with an incredibly sparse set and lone character, Easter managed to combine some graphic weirdness and seeming contradictions into a surprisingly heartfelt meditation on what it means to interrogate the beliefs and traditions of your culture, and Halloween – one of the more subdued entries – pulled absolutely no punches in getting its story across, accessing age-old tropes and unveiling them in unexpected ways. Even the shorts that stumbled in places – Christmas and Mother’s Day – still had interesting things to say, and fascinating ways of going there.

Holidays is one of those rare anthology films that is a genuinely good movie across the board – each of the shorts stands on its own merit, while still working together as a cohesive whole, and it takes the holiday theme in places that even I, a seasoned horror fan, didn’t expect.

Don’t miss this one. It’s great.

Still, I feel I would be reminisce without giving a shout out to the films that inspired Holidays. I stand by my assertion that on a whole, The ABCS of Death and V/H/S were a mixed bag, but there were a few gems that ought to get their minute in the spotlight. Here are two of my favorites. And though I could go on extensively about them, I will let the films speak for themselves.

First up is the entry for A in The ABC’s of Death. Thankfully, youtube has been kind enough to upload Apocalypse in its entirety.

Next up is a clip from V/H/S. Unfortunately, the entire short is still too long to be uploaded, but you can get an idea of what the story is working with.


Wer (2013)

Wer opens to a jarring, brutal beat and continues on with the song right until the end. This is a movie that returns to the brutality of the early werewolf legends, cutting out the more recent attempts at humanizing the monster, or making the story more palatable to audiences. Make no mistake, Wer is absolutely relentless in its brutality. To my surprise, I also found it to be well plotted and extensively researched. Despite a few egregious jump-scares, Wer is one of the better werewolf films to be released in the last ten years.

The plot is deceptively simple. An American family has been attacked while on vacation in France. A local man, Talan Gwynek, has been arrested for the crime, all though the evidence is shaky at best, and the local police strangely reluctant to cooperate. The attorney hired to represent Talan is mounting a defense arguing that the family was killed in an animal attack and that Talan was a convenient (and, it turns out, extremely profitable) scapegoat. However, things are never as clear-cut as they seem.

I’d argue that Wer is one of director William Brent Bell’s more thought out projects, though it loses momentum and a lot of its coherence in the second half. For better or worse, Wer does its best work in the first half of the film. The plotting is tighter, the dialog more nuanced, and the tension develops in natural ways.

Though this is not spelled out in the film, the circumstances of Talan’s case mirror those of several historical “werewolf” murders. It’s established early on that Talan is disabled, suffering from undiagnosed porphyria, and has been socially isolated almost his entire life due to the physical symptoms of the disease (limited mobility, excessive hair growth, seizures, etc.). Additionally, Talan’s family is composed of immigrants from Romania, not native Frenchmen. Though Talan appears fairly intelligent and speaks near perfect English, he is not especially educated. It also becomes apparent that his family is relatively poor – with an interesting caveat. While the Gwyneks themselves don’t have a lot of money, their land is extremely valuable, and the surrounding community would benefit greatly if it were to be sold. However, the Gwyneks refuse to do so. This, added with the fact that Talan’s father died under extremely suspicious conditions, gives the surrounding community no reason to love Talan and every reason to want him gone.

In essence, what we have is a poor, socially isolated family in a country that is not especially known for its tolerance of immigrants, surrounded by a community that would benefit financially from their expulsion. The situation resembles the one faced by Giles Garnier, often called the Werewolf of Dole. Garnier was accused and eventually confessed to killing at least four children in 1572. He was found guilty and executed, along with his wife. Garnier was a poor man of limited means, socially isolated, and disliked by his community. It was also possible that he was mentally ill. It also resembles the situation faced by Peter Stumpp, the Werewolf of Bedburg, in 1589. Peter Stumpp was a German farmer, and a fairly well to do Protestant in a time and place where Protestants were not well liked. Peter Stumpp was also disabled, missing a hand from a farming accident. It is likely “Stumpp” was a nickname referring to the injury, rather than his given name. He confessed under torture to killing fourteen children and two women, and was later executed in 1598, along with his entire family.

Now, whether or not these men were serial killers is debatable. Certainly there were deaths that occurred in these time periods, but whether beasts or these specific men were involved cannot be known for certain. Too much time has passed. However, what we can know is that the circumstances involving these two historical cases mirror the fictional case in Wer quite closely. Though this is not spelled out in the film, it’s clear that a great deal of research went into the story.

Curiously, both Giles Garnier and Talan are French. It’s unclear exactly where the events of Wer are meant to have taken place, but I find it significant that they occurred in the same country. For what it’s worth, the film was shot in Romania, likely for financial reasons. Draw your own connections.

To its credit, Wer doesn’t shy away the complicating factors surrounding the case. It’s clear from the beginning that the community stands to benefit from Talan’s conviction – the payoff being in the millions if the family relinquishes the land, which they may have to do anyway in order to pay the legal bills. It’s also clear that Talan’s isolation, disability, and limited social skills leave him in a difficult position; in essence, he’s presented as a tempting target, with few means of defending himself. Additionally, there are the jurisdictional complications with accusing a French citizen (especially one with immigrant parents) of the murder of three American citizens on French soil. The characters deal with these issues as they pop up in ways that allow for natural character development and cohesive world building. In the first half of this film, we have a very clear picture of who these people are, the stakes they face, and how their world operates.

The second half of Wer challenges this a bit. While I’m the last person to be arguing against creating sympathetic villains, Talan’s shift from sympathetic plot device to violent, murderous plot device comes too quickly to be effectively processed, and not enough of the details of his story are wrapped up before the carnage starts showing up. Which is a problem here, because Wer unfortunately lets itself get distracted by the brutality of the gore, and forgets to spend time on the more delicate details of the plot. Now, this move does have its advantages; the scenes of chaos are beautifully and effectively shot and I enjoyed the experience of watching them in the moment. The audience gets pulled into the chaos right alongside the characters, something few movies manage to accomplish. However, Wer doesn’t seem to know how to pull itself back on track and return to more cohesive storytelling after the fact. Too many questions are left unanswered, and none of the character arcs are completed.

I’m also curious about the choice to make Talan guilty of the crimes, despite (or perhaps because of) the importance that Wer placed on understanding his precarious social situation. It’s clear from the beginning that Talan was targeted because he, for various reasons, made for a convenient scapegoat. It’s also left unclear whether or not Talan even understood his own actions, or had any recollection of the murders. Wer establishes that at least one trigger for the werewolf transformation is Talan’s seizures – is he in control? To what extent? The audience just doesn’t know. This complicates the story, as we have no idea if Talan (and everyone else around him) is a tragic victim of his disease, or if he finally snapped under the pressing reality of his situation. Wer made a choice to leave that ambiguous, a move I’m not fond of.

For all its nuance in the beginning, Wer comes dangerously close to falling into stereotypes about disability, immigration, and poverty being directly related to violent and depraved behavior. While I don’t believe this was the intention of the director, the sloppiness of the second half gives the film an unfortunate reading of the situation. As filmmakers, we have an obligation to realize what we are saying with our art, and how it might be interpreted. Fiction has been a way for people to gage the acceptability of their beliefs and actions since the invention of storytelling; the things we say have influence on the society around us, whether we realize it or not. Our stories, even the ones about werewolves, are never without impact. Wer’s use of historical cases complicates this even further.

Was this intentional? Maybe, maybe not. I’d go out on a limb and say most filmmakers don’t create stories with the intent of causing harm to anyone. And on the whole, Wer doesn’t do anything terribly egregious – it doesn’t indicate that immigrants or poor people are inherently violent. However, Wer does fit into a pattern of stereotypes in storytelling that have a historical basis; after a while, these things add up. And they have an impact.

So, what does that mean about the movie? Honestly, that’s up to you. I’ve seen films that are intentionally and blatantly racist, or otherwise harmful to minority groups. Wer is not one of those. It’s a thoughtful, carefully plotted story, and a fun watch. However, the stereotypes it eventually falls into have a long and troubled history, which should be kept in mind. These things shouldn’t prevent anyone from enjoying the film, but it is important to realize that they do have an impact and can – in great enough number – cause harm to real, living people. Stereotypes influence how we view the world, which impacts how we treat people. Keep that in mind.

Technically speaking, Wer takes more than a few risks, blending first person shaky-cams and an aborted, confusing soundtrack to convey the emotional situations that the characters find themselves in. The camera works as a direct indicator of the emotional read of whatever scene it happens to be shooting, instead of an unbiased observer. The soundtrack fades in and out, though this works surprisingly well in Wer.

The musician Brian Scott O’Connor presents a subdued, careful performance of Talan, and surprising amount of nuance given that Wer is apparently his first film. It’s a rare actor that can convincingly portray a nearly silent character for the length of a feature film, but O’Conner pulls it off. Relying entirely on physicality in lieu of dialog is a difficult skill, and one that many actors – however seasoned – tend to struggle with. This role bodes well for O’Conner’s acting resume, should he choose to continue with it. I hope to see him acting again, as he had a great screen presence. That being said, the script doesn’t give him nearly enough to do in the second half, essentially abandoning his character arc in favor of chasing the gore.

In general, Wer has interesting, though flawed, things to say, and it’s a fun watch besides. I very much recommend it, though ask that you give it some critical thought afterwards.