A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014, dir. Ana Lily Amirpour)
Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut is a tremendous one, a wholly stylish, swooning affair of culture. This exploding black-and-white disco ball, revealing director Amirpour’s brain where cultural influences (film, music, heritage) dance together in a tale both cinematic in anamorphic construct and because its setting and characters can only live onscreen. Amirpour, vampires, Lynchian cool, feminism, Sergio Leone cues, post punk and Iran converge in a story of connection. A lone vampire in Bad City feels a spark and like her chador in the wind, away we go. The film is also now available in an amazing Blu-ray set from Kino Lorber.
The Canal (2014, dir. Ivan Kavanagh)
Totally underserved last year, The Canal is a stunning companion to the fraught mother tale of The Babadook. Here, an Irish film archivist is having anxieties of inadequacy and is soon spurred and haunted by documentary crime scene footage of his very home at the turn of the century. This is a dread-inducing, upsetting descent that’s aware of both horror cinema history, as well as the floating specter of awful, old-world brute masculinity. We tell domestic horror stories because they keep happening and The Canal does so in truly scary, ghastly manner. A must-see.
Altar (2014, dir. Nick Willing)
Altar stars Matthew Modine & Olivia Williams in the tale of a family, who moves into a timeworn, dilapidated country mansion in order to restore its former splendor. But, in the process, they awaken the ghosts of the house’s original inhabitants whose curse still looms darkly over the haunted estate. What follows is a hair-raising ordeal of spectral apparitions and demonic possession that threatens to destroy the lives of the desperate protagonists in this early realm and beyond.
Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (2012, dir. Ernesto Díaz Espinoza)
A fest favorite from Chilean filmmaker Ernesto Díaz Espinoza (Redeemer), Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman concerns a powerful Argentine gangster who uses everything in his power to stop the woman that wants to kill him, a sexy mercenary known as “The Machine Gun Woman”. The staggering sum of cash he offers for her head sets in motion an army of hitmen and also, by accident, involves the life of naïve DJ Santiago, a common youth that will have to steel his guts against the underworld, and above all, survive the irresistible – and bloodthirsty – Machine Gun Woman.