Just like my previous post featuring four short reviews, I wanted to briefly talk about a few horror movies from 2019 that were recommended to me as potential candidates for my “best horror films of 2019” list (coming very soon…). This time, I grouped the four movies mentioned in the title based on one aspect they all have in common: these four horror movies feature a female lead dealing with either external threats or inner struggles (or both).
Unlike the previous “short movie reviews” post, the films featured in this article are easy to find and I will make sure to mention where you can watch them right now. The horror films briefly covered in this article are: Theresa & Allison (USA, Jeremiah Kipp), The Furies (Australia, Tony D’Aquino), Nancy (USA, Christina Choe), Knife + Heart (France, Yann Gonzalez).
Continue reading and check short reviews & final grades below…
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Theresa & Allison – short review
To be perfectly honest, I watched this movie as kind of a joke. For the longest time, Theresa & Allison had an 8.1/10 rating on IMDb, with rumours that cast, crew and their friends inflated the ratings and wrote fake reviews. I, also, thought the trailer looked dreadful and the synopsis sounded a tad dodgy: Theresa, a newly turned vampire, is lost and despaired, until she seeks help from charming Allison. As Theresa discovers more and more about real vampires, she also falls in love with Allison: their romance is, however, plagued by the ugly truth and shady morals of the vampire world.
Very low-budget and indie, Theresa & Allison is not as bad as I was expecting: the two leads offer decent performances, there’s plenty of gore, the look and feel of the movie – very reminiscent of 70s French horror-erotica flicks – is rather captivating and unique in this day and age. Also, this movie is filled with very explicit sex scenes: whether this is a positive or a negative, I will let you decide. However, Theresa & Allison isn’t a good movie either: the two-hour-long runtime is completely unjustified, the score is constantly obnoxious, the characters are unlikeable, the lighting is incredibly amateur. However, the biggest issue with this movie lies in its pacing: for every 10 minutes where a lot happens, there are 20 dull, drawn-out and uninspired minutes that follow, making Theresa & Allison rather hard to sit through and even harder to recommend. Theresa & Allison is available on Amazon Prime
The Furies – short review
In this survival horror movie, we follow Kayla (an amazing Airlie Dodds), mysteriously kidnapped, who finds herself an unwilling participant in a deadly game where women are hunted by masked men. Even though the social commentary about feminism is a bit on the nose, literally starting with the plot description, The Furies is a very enjoyable and intense addition to Aussie survival horror.
With its short runtime, (82 minutes, credits included), The Furies is a wild ride that benefits from great FX, loads of gore, creative kills and a very quick pace. Despite its repetitive formula (hide, get caught, kill to survive, repeat), the movie never feels uneventful or tedious, due to the elements mentioned above. On a filmmaking level, however, this flick doesn’t stand out in any way: every aspect connected to the filmmaking, from cinematography to camera-work to shot composition, is just serviceable. Yet, The Furies is one of those movies where the lack of character development truly becomes a negative, because it’s really hard to feel invested in the protagonists and, therefore, to feel emotionally engaged when they are in dangerous situations. The Furies is available on VOD on various platforms
Nancy – short review
Let me start by saying that Nancy is a very good film… but I do not consider it a horror movie. It is, however, a dark and disturbing psychological drama about Nancy (played by an outstanding Andrea Riseborough), who was possibly victim of abuse during childhood. After her sick mother dies, Nancy sees a TV news story about the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of a 5-year-old girl from a shopping mall: she notices what the girl would look like today, which bears a striking resemblance to her. On top of that, Nancy can’t find her birth certificate in any files at home, which causes the woman to start investigating and embark on a journey of personal discovery.
This film is great mostly for a couple of reasons: Nancy’s character development – which is incredibly rich and fascinating, dour and depressing tone and atmosphere, spotless way of establishing mystery and suspense. Aside from some minor inconsistencies, the only issue with Nancy is how average it looks on a visual level: I don’t know whether this depended on the director’s inexperience (this was her debut film) or on a conscious choice not to distract the viewer from the lead’s journey with a shiny veneer. Other than that, this movie is pretty engrossing and melancholic, and I would highly recommend it for fans of heavy dramas and psychological thrillers. Nancy is available on VOD on various platforms
Knife + Heart – short review
Originally titled Un Couteau dans le Coeur (meaning: A Knife in the Heart… such a poetic title), this French giallo-inspired horror film is a visual treat and a great whodunnit at the same time. Directed by Yann Gonzales and starring the always impressive Vanessa Paradis (Inside, 2007), Knife + Heart is set in 1979 Paris and centres around the LGBTQ community, where a masked murderer stabs homosexuals and transgenders to death with a dildo-knife. Enters Anne (Paradis), a producer of third-rate gay porn who finds out the lead of her most ambitious project yet was killed: since she doesn’t trust the homophobic French police, Anne ends up investigating on her own, which leads her into a world of madness and strange occurrences.
Just like Theresa & Allison, this film is set around the gay/LGBTQ community, but this time the setting really works and elevates the whole movie. I loved Knife + Heart! Combining elements of William Friedkin’s Cruising, Dario Argento’s early work and Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill, this French film is truly a great homage to 70s filmmaking, as well as a gory and thrilling ride through the streets or Paris. With impeccable recreation of 70s editing, colour palette and cinematography, Knife + Heart improves upon most movies from that era, due to thought-out character development, uncompromising social commentary (not subtle, but not pandering either) and upgraded bloody effects. I have very few issues with this great modern giallo, most of which would involve spoilers, so I can’t really go into them. If you like 70s cinema and whodunnit-type movies, Knife + Heart will blow your mind in the best way possible. Knife + Heart is available on Amazon Prime in the US
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