Teen Titans Go! To The Movies (2018)

This film was weird, and I’m not entirely sure in a good way. It felt like it was written by people who never spoke to each other about what kind of film they wanted to make. About 30% of it is really good, meta as hell about superhero movies and the recent overabundance of them. But when it’s bad, it’s embarrassingly bad. The good moments make you laugh out loud, but the bad moments make you remember that what you are watching is fundamentally a kids movie; terrible accents and dialogue by “cool” characters, singing and dancing (although there is one song in it which is pretty cool actually), really juvenile humour (I know, childish humour in a kids movie, who’d have thunk it?), and just a general lack of substance. I suppose the is plot okay; the one they actually use anyway. The film goes through about 4 plots they could have used, one of which (when they travel back in time to stop superheroes trauma from happening, thus stopping them from becoming heroes. yet when they travel back to their timeline the world is overrun with supervillains) would have been a MUCH better film, but instead is used for a quick 4-minute sequence which is never referenced again. Usually, films which are adapted from television shows have bigger stories than usuals; ones they couldn’t fit into a standard episode. This film is just 88 minutes long and has A LOT of padding, you could easily condense the plot into a 30-minute episode. It seems like the only reason it’s a feature is because the plot revolves around them wanting a super-hero movie, so thematically it suits a feature-length film better. But whilst the story suits a feature, the way its told does not. I mean, I suppose the feature-length nature of it made it easier to get big names like Nicholas Cage and Stan Lee (and Greg Davies for some reason). And it meant the mid-credits reveal had more weight to it, if that was done in an episode it wouldn’t really be that notable, but it happened in a big event, so it’s talked about.

So that’s enough about the things I didn’t like. What about the good things? When the jokes land, they REALLY land. When it’s funny, it’s very very funny and will make you think it’s one of the funniest films you’ve seen all year, it’s a shame that doesn’t happen often enough though. The animation style has been criticised as being too basic, but to me, it works for the film. It’s aimed at a very young audience, and young people prefer bright colours that pop. It brings to mind spending weekends at home, waking up before everyone else in the house did, and using that time to watch cartoons. But my favourite memory of this film is something that wasn’t intentional; a few days later I was on my way to see another film and was sitting down eating food beforehand. Behind me there was a bloke and his son who had just left the cinema after seeing this. They were sitting there discussing comic book movies, breaking the fourth wall, and the history of British comics. It was such a lovely and touching moment, one of the most adorable things I’ve been witness to. That’s when it hit me; it’s okay if I didn’t love this film, I don’t have to, it’s not for me. It’s not for the cynical and jaded, it’s the cinematic equivalent of bubblegum and aimed at kids, and that’s okay.

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Hotel Artemis (2018)

I really dug this. I mean, I won’t buy it on DVD or anything but it was a great watch. It’s better than the adverts make it seem. I thought it would be kind of a dumb action film but it’s SO much more. The satire in it is spot-on, and won’t date. That’s the trouble with satire sometimes, it can become irrelevant really quickly. This won’t. This will only become irrelevant when one of two things happen: when we reach the time the film is set in (2028), or when poor people start getting treated with respect and dignity. So really this film has ten years of relevance, being set in a society where there are riots because access to water is being denied to people without money (something which a lot of people predict will happen in the future), so the film hits home in terms of satire. The rest of it? The plot is actually really well paced, it builds and progresses at a steady pace, not showing too much too soon, but also not spending so long building up that you end up bored. It looks stunning, the future-dystopian aesthetic showing a great mix of slick and dreary (like a Nick Cave album). The performances? Dave Bautista continues doing what he does, being terrifyingly intimidating with conflicting thoughts in his head. Sterling K Brown somehow manages to feel underused despite being a main character, and Jodie Foster is still a fucking treasure. I was reminded how truly great she is during this film, she wasn’t just acting vocally, or with her face, her entire body was consumed by her character, the way she stood, the way she walked, everything about her was character driven, and shows the difference between a great performer, and one of the greatest performers.

Despite that; Jodie Foster wasn’t my favourite part of the film. My favourite part of the film was the sense that there were other stories in this world. The spin-off potential is huge, everything about the world and the characters seems developed, to the point where if somebody told me it was a comic book adaptation I’d believe them. Even the way characters interact suggest a huge backstory behind their relationship (Batista and Foster in particular.

Now for the negatives; it’s really hard to find negative things about this. Not in a “it’s so brilliant it’s almost perfect” way, but in a “not a lot of it stood out” way. What it does, it does well, but it very does better than that. The plot is simply an excuse for the action scenes at times. I mean, that’s fine, but it would be nice if it tried harder. Also the satire doesn’t go quite as hard as you feel it should, it very quickly becomes just the backdrop, it would be like if Robocop had the exact same setting and atmosphere, but was a movie about golf.

So in summary; very good, but continued the modern trend of “Jeff Goldblum turns up for only 5 minutes”, and makes me disappointed that Sofia Boutella still hasn’t had a film franchise built around her.

Skyscraper (2018)

This film knows what it is. It’s a popcorn movie. A film that demands being seen at the cinema as that’s its home. It needs to be seen on a big screen, and you can’t expect great cinema etiquette. Yeah if someone is on their phone then you should still legally be allowed to slap their wrist with a razor blade, but someone laughing loudly? That’s fine during this. Someone sitting there loudly eating popcorn? Also fine. It’s almost like it was made specifically for people to audibly react, it’s like the anti-Quiet Place. It’s an incredibly fun distraction. The kind of film you can imagine watching whilst drinking with your friends late at night. It’s not going to change the world, or be studied in film class by future directors, and if you say this is your favourite film, I will judge you.

So this film should be run of the mill guilty pleasure. There’s one thing that stops it from being that; the main character is an amputee. To say that again; the action hero is an amputee. It’s very rarely mentioned, he’s not defined by it and it only really comes up once every so often. It’s a small thing, but I love that action movie fans in a similar situation finally have representation on screen. Usually, when you see someone like that on screen it’s as the villain, it’s about damn time they were allowed to be the hero. Yeah, it’s a shame the character was played by someone with 2 legs but still, baby steps. Also, The Rock is just killing it lately. Jumanji, Rampage, and now this? He’s quickly becoming the go-to guy for popcorn flicks.

So we’ve established this film is fun. It’s entertaining shlock and you’ll enjoy it whilst watching it. There are some issues with it, of course, the CGI isn’t quite as clean as it needs to be in some areas, which occasionally makes it feel like you’re watching a video game cutscene. The majority of characters are underutilized, and, personally, I’m getting incredibly bored of “the bad guys are doing this so they can get hold of this USB stick” plots (seriously, it’s the MacGuffin for sooooo many movie characters lately). Also, it’s hard to feel any genuine tension as you can pretty much pinpoint how every scene will play out. I must commend them on the room of mirrors scene though, that was BEAUTIFULLY orchestrated and laid out, THAT’S the scene you need to see. You don’t need to see the rest, but I advise that you should, and watch it on a big screen. This film will lose so much of its potency if you watch it on a small screen. It’s spectacle cinema, and deserves to be treated as such. The action is some of the most jaw-dropping you’ll see. The bits which aren’t action-heavy? They’re…..look watch the action bits. The rest of it is difficult to recommend. The opening third, in particular, is exposition in a film that really doesn’t need that much exposition. People aren’t going to see this film for the brilliant camera work, they’re going to see it because “ooo things go boom”. It doesn’t need as many characters as it has, as it means most of them go to waste. Neve Campbell, in particular, seems incredibly underdeveloped for a performer of her calibre. I think Hannah Quinlivan is underwritten as well, but it’s hard to tell as her character flits in and out of the script like a drunken desire to commit suicide. She’s good when she’s in it, but she isn’t really in it enough to warrant a strong opinion on her either way, I’d like to see her in more so I can find out.

So yeah, go see it. You may not love it, but you will enjoy it

Marrowbone (2018)

My cinematic history is full of films I knew nothing about but enjoyed immensely; Bogowie, Table 19, The Last Word. This was not one of those. It was a mess, and not even a hot mess. It has potential but never realises it and is too flawed to be recommended.

For starters; it doesn’t seem to know what kind of film it is. It’s shot like a horror movie, written like a drama, and paced like a thriller. It’s both all of these things and yet none of them. There’s nothing scary in it to warrant it being deemed a horror movie, the characters aren’t defined well enough to call it a drama, and the stakes aren’t enough to call it a thriller.

It also has too many twists, by which I mean it has more than one. It turns out that the “ghost” (that is referenced to about 3 times in the film) is actually their dad, who they locked in the attic after he tried to kill them, surviving for years on rats etc. THAT should be the main twist, it kicks off the third act. The other twist? All the other family members (apart from the main character) are now dead and he’s been imagining them to deal with guilt. That was too much. It overegged the pudding and didn’t really add anything. It also came after/was attached to, a terrible scene. It was with a scene that was the main character being chased by his dad, written as a scene full of tension of whether he’s about to survive. One issue: it’s a flashback. You can’t add “OMG is he going to survive?” scene in a flashback, unless it’s REALLY good, and this wasn’t. It felt like it was supposed to be at the start, it would have made sense then. That kind of sums up this film; bad choices were made somewhere that ended up harming the final product. It’s a shame as everybody involved in this is better than this. The writer/director also wrote The Impossible, which was incredibly brutal and interesting to watch.

I feel that somewhere, if this went through a few more rewrites it could have been interesting. It just needed a bit more care and it would have worked.

The Incredibles 2 (2018)

Fourteen years. Fourteen long years we waited for this. Cinema has changed, animation has changed, yet this film is set the day after the first one, so the characters haven’t changed. And I don’t care, this film was superb and I loved it.

The first one was Incredible, and this one was Incredible two (I’m so sorry). Everything about this film just works beautifully, the voice-work, the way it looks, the story, it all interacts with each other in the most wonderful way.

It picks up almost immediately after the first one ends, starting with a fight with the villain that turned up at the end of it. The action scene that that causes lets you know what kind of film it’s going to be: bombastic fun that looks INCREDIBLE (although let’s face it, with Pixar, you always KNOW it’s going to look great). The story is serviceable, it doesn’t come anywhere near the depth of Toy Story 3, or the heart of Finding Dory, but that doesn’t actually matter. You’re not sitting there thinking “well this story is pedestrian” because the way the film is done you don’t really care, you’re just sitting there amazed at what you see unveiling in front of you. It does what it needs to do, and it does it well. That’s not to say it’s a simple movie, it’s probably the only mass-market animated movie this year that has dealt with the themes this does. Themes of masculinity and feeling worthless because you’re not the one the family depends on, the emasculation that can cause.

There was a worry when the initial trailer came out that the film would focus too much on Jack-Jack, pushing him from background character to the main one, making him as insufferable as minions became. We really should have trusted Pixar more. They use him well, using him as an excuse for some amazing visual slapstick gags. More about the visuals; these films have their own visual style, it’s not just the animation. The architecture is a kind of future-past hybrid that just works beautifully and helps create a universe which is both retro and timeless.

Yes, the reveal of the villain is kind of obvious, but I’d rather a films twist was obvious than if it made no sense. And you don’t really sit there and analyze the story of this, you sit back and let it take over you. Pixar movies really are great, they’re the only studio for whom I eagerly look forward to almost anything (cars excluded) they do. Even the films which are thought of as bland, are only seen as such compared to the excellent standard they normally produce (seriously, give Brave a rewatch, it’s actually REALLY good). This is Pixar at their best, but if they make me wait fourteen years for another one, I will be pissed off.

Adrift (2018)

This film was ruined for me by a positive review. It simply said “with a heartbreaking twist ending”. Okay, so it’s about a woman and her boyfriend on a boat that’s survived a storm. The most logical twist ending for that is; he’s been dead the whole time. Which turned out to be correct. I also knew it was based on a true story, so with him being dead, the other thing I could infer was that she made it out alive; otherwise how would anybody know about the story? She had to live because otherwise, they’d have nothing to base on a story on as they would have no idea what happened. This completely robbed the film of any tension what so ever. I knew she was going to survive, and I also knew that no matter what, what happens to him doesn’t matter as he’s already dead. This would have been okay if the film itself was spectacular enough for you to ignore it, but sadly it’s not. The scenes of them lost at sea are intercut with them meeting and preparing for the journey etc, the events leading up to the storm. I get why they did this as it meant that the audience wasn’t bored by a singular story (it’s REALLY hard to get a B-story in a film like this as what else can you really focus on that would still be relevant to the main story).

So yeah, I get why they did this, because of the aforementioned “breaking up the film” film, but also because it helped to build up their relationship. One problem; because a lot of the film was on the boat, this meant the build-up, i.e. their relationship, had to be developed REALLY quickly, and so it came off as forced and unnatural. They went from “hi” to being incredibly in love with each other in about 10 minutes of screen time, probably less than that. This undermined the entire film, the film isn’t really about them being STRANDED, it’s about THEM being stranded. But if you don’t buy into their relationship then the film loses its effectiveness. It doesn’t help that the leads don’t seem to have any chemistry so they don’t really make that believable a couple. Shame as both performers are really good and give it their all, but it’s just missing that certain spark, they don’t match for some reason. They are great in it though; Shailene Woodley has never looked worse, in a good way. The only thing I’ve seen her in before this was The Fault In Our Stars, a film where she starred as a cancer patient. She looked closer to death in this, which is a huge testament to the make up department and director. Sam Claflin, he’s also in this movie. But I couldn’t really focus on his performance as I was too busy thinking “where do I know him from?”. I’ve since gone through his filmography and I still have no idea. My best bet is from the trailer for Me Before You, if that’s the case then that trailer was well overplayed, especially considering the films I haven’t seen any trailers for.

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So, should you see this film? I find it hard to recommend to be honest. There’s not much in this film that you haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s a great story to be told, but it’s just not told well enough. Compare this to The Impossible, that film was brilliantly directed and you felt danger in every scene, here, you just find yourself knowing things won’t matter. It does contain more Tom Waits than most films though, which is nice. And Woodley puts in a great performance. But other than that? Meh

Swimming With Men (2018)

Yet again, a film which I knew absolutely nothing about. It is weird how I can see so many films at the cinema (37 so far this year) and yet there’s still a lot of films where I don’t see the trailer beforehand (11 so far I’ve gone into blind), it doesn’t say much for film marketing really does it? So, this film, it’s about someone who goes swimming, with men (oh my science that’s why it’s called that! That’s SO clever). It’s based on a true story about a group of middle-aged Swedish men who started a swim team. In a nice touch, they’re in the film, playing a Swedish swim team who in everything. I like that.

Of course it’s a low budget British film; but it’s very different from a lot of films like that. For starters, this isn’t about a group of elderly British people doing things, this is completely different; it’s about a group of middle-aged British people doing things.  There’s no way a major American company would finance this, and for good reason; a lot of people won’t like this. Some of the dialogue is quite bad, almost none of the actors will be known outside of this country, and it’s so slow paced it’s almost glacial. Plus, it’s a film about synchronised swimming, which isn’t exactly a major source of excitement for casual moviegoers (although it does provide some spectacular cinematography).

If you’re unsure about whether to watch it, the opening won’t change your mind. It’s a typical “middle-aged person is bored and thinks his wife is cheating on him” that you’ve seen MULTIPLE times before. Actually, there’s not much in here you haven’t seen before, outside of the swimming sections. But that’s where it shines. The swimmers are people who come together to escape their mundane lives, they don’t give any details of their private lives to each other, they just use it as an outlet for frustrations through teamwork and bonding. It’s actually a lot sweeter than I’m making it sound. It would be even sweeter if the film was a bit longer. If it was longer it would give some of the other characters more to do, as it is there are a few members of the team who you completely forget about, one of them is someone who never speaks, he speaks finally near the end in what is supposed to be a big moment, but in reality you’d have barely noticed him in the film and will completely forget about that being his character trait. This does make it sound like I disliked it, that’s wrong though. It was funny, incredibly heartwarming, and the characters that we did focus on were really well written in terms of their interactions with each other.

It’s also incredibly funny at times. But in a believable way. There was a lot of opportunities for silly slapstick but it admirably never takes them, instead going for character-based jokes and dialogue. Still not enough to forgive the criminal misuse of Jane Horrocks though.

I’d suggest seeing it if you can get in cheaply, otherwise, I’d wait for it to inevitably be on BBC over Christmas, and then watch it then.

Uncle Drew (2018)

This film commits many cardinal sins, let’s list them before I get into the review:

  1. It’s based on an advert. I’m used to films based on a book, or a TV, or a party game, but an advert? FUCK that!
  2. Most of the cast are young people in old people prosthetics.
  3. It’s about basketball. A sport I have little to no interest in.

So really this review should be full of the kind of vitriol usually reserved for undercooked pastries. Yet……I liked it. Yes, a lot of the performances were so exaggerated and cringe-worthy that it made it hard to watch. Yes, the story seemed like it was all put together on the back of a cereal box, and not a big one, one of those travel boxes. Yes, there’s so much product placement it’s almost embarrassing. Yes, it feels it needs a 5-10 minute dance sequence in the middle of it. And yes, the traditional “a teams player gets injured mid-game and needs to be replaced” happens TWICE in the closing section and I’m still not entirely sure why (seemed to be just so can get a view of Shaq’s butt cheeks). But I liked it. It was funny as hell and incredibly heartwarming. It would have been so easy for this basketball movie to be an own goal, luckily it’s a real hole-in-one touchdown (I’m not great at sports metaphors). It knows just when (and importantly, how) to get to you emotionally, to the point where I was glad for the credits scenes as it gave me time to wipe my eyes dry after (no, you’re crying!).

The film rests entirely on Lil Rel Howery, best known as the friend from Get Out. He walks the line between outrageous comedy performance and reality performance brilliantly. If he was replaced by someone who leant too far the other way it would have ruined the entire film. Playing his role somewhat reminiscent of a less annoying Kevin Hart, he’s a great lead for this and should be commended. His character should too, well, the films approach to his character anyway. A lot of times in sports films when we see someone who is good at a sport it’s because they’re really good the first time they attempt it, or they show some skill for it early on. This makes it seem like being good at it is just a matter of genetics. This film shows the other way; it shows him young, not being brilliant the first time he picks up a ball, but he practices, and practices, and practices. It’s revolutionary for a film to show that, I don’t get why though, but I like that this film takes the time to do it.

 

So to sum up, I liked it, but I probably would have liked it more if I actually gave a crap about basketball as I would have appreciated the cameos more.

Tag (2018)

Summary:

A group of friends play tag for the month of May, every year.

This was a lot of fun. I’ll get that out of the way now. It’s just joyful, incredibly dumb entertainment. Mostly, and it’s that “mostly” which is a problem. For 90% of the time it’s brainless fun, but one that’s heartwarming in just the right places. But then at the end, it tries to get emotional, and it doesn’t really work. It just seems like an excuse for the film to try to “do” emotional, and it does not do it well. Speaking of things it doesn’t do well; the “miscarriage” joke just seems out of place. The film itself isn’t dark enough for that joke to really work. If it had moments of darkness throughout the film then that joke/sub-plot would have worked. It doesn’t really help that the character who does it isn’t really given much of a character really. She’s just seen as an extension of her partner. Kind of an issue with a lot of the female characters, to be honest, a lot of them feel really underdeveloped. There’s one character who’s introduced really early on, a reporter who is writing a story about the guys and their game. I won’t lie, there were entire scenes where I forgot/didn’t realise she was there. It was clever having her there as an audience surrogate but she didn’t really do anything. I mean, there was one scene which was played out as a series of interviews, just the one. They never do that again. Other things they don’t do: make the most of the premise. This film is fun, but it could be a LOT more fun. I feel it could have been more creative with its concept. It could have been an incredibly wacky caper of a group of people trying to outsmart each other. As it is it’s a group of people all trying to tag one person and getting violently hurt in the process, which makes the game seem less fun and fulfilling than the film says it is.

This review may make it sound like I hated it, I didn’t. It was very very funny. And the cast was great. People have said this is like a Hawkeye movie. But Jeremy Renner isn’t Hawkeye in this, he’s Rorsarch from Watchmen (a casting which would totally work btw). He knows what kind of film this is, and plays his part brilliantly. As do the others, Jon Hamm is great too, hamm-ing it up throughout (see what I did there?). Isla Fisher continues to be just, just great. But the real star is Hannibal Buress, who doesn’t necessarily have the best lines in the script but makes them the best lines with his delivery. The biggest complaint with the cast is it should have been bigger. This is based on a real-life story, but that involves about 10 people, this was cut down so the story would be easier to follow. I wish they didn’t do that. If they made it a larger cast it would have been a lot more fun, and the film would focus on the game, as opposed to the characters. I miss ensemble cast comedies. You know, things like It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and their ilk. We have ensemble action films (The oceans series, even the Avengers to some extent), but lack those old-style madcap ensemble cast comedies. The wacky ones where it’s just non-stop comedy throughout. It’s a shame as it would have been perfect for this, it would have made it something that stood out, would have been less……I guess, “disposable” is the right word. There’s not enough about this film to make it stand out. To be honest, throughout this I was thinking “okay, so it’s a film about adults playing games?” and for some reason, it kept bringing to mind the far superior Game Night. At least if it was an ensemble cast then it would have a reason for the number of unresolved plotlines it has and it would have stood out on its own. I know by the end of the year I will completely forget that this film exists, let alone that I saw it.

But should you see it? I’d say yes. It’s a fun way to pass the time, and it has a superbly diverse soundtrack. It’s just……it should be better

Hereditary (2018)

It’s been a few days since I watched this. I needed the cool-down period so that I could approach this with the sophistication and slick analytical nature which we are known for. So here goes: WHAT THE COCKING SHIT-FUCK WAS THAT?

I mean, I liked it, I think. I’m still not entirely sure to be honest. I thought it was very, very good, I’m just not sure if I ever want to see it again. It seems to have divided opinion, some people view it as a fantastic film that could lead the way for horror movies, whilst some people view it as a boring mess. Me? I see it as a boring mess, that could lead the way for horror movies.

There is a very good chance you’ll find the opening third incredibly tedious, and you will look at your watch/the person next to you/your own reflection in the shiny surface of something as you contemplate how you’re wasting your life. But like all films; once the small child gets decapitated, it really picks up. But only compared to what was going on before, compared to standard films it is still incredibly slow. Almost two-thirds of the film is basically foreplay, which is always a risky strategy as it means if you flub the actual orgasm then it’s just been a massive waste of everyone’s time. Luckily the cumshot here is really good. The closing section is just insane, in a brilliant way. I feel it could have been a better film if you cut a lot of the opening, but then that also could have hurt it. Part of the brilliance was the way everything was set up, there is SOOOOO much foreshadowing it’s actually genius. So many things you think are inconsequential (even the play being studied in class) actually turn out to be deeply important. After leaving the film you’ll suddenly remember a seemingly throwaway line, and how it actually foreshadowed something important, and you’ll think “fuck, that was brilliant”. And it is. The script is the work of someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. Same with the directing, scares are punctuated with audio cues. What normally happens in a lot of horror films is this: person is sitting in an empty room, suddenly there’s a loud piece of audio, and a face appears behind them. The way this does it; person sitting in an empty room, you suddenly notice there’s a face behind them, and you wonder how long it’s been there. This shows fantastic competence from a first-time director and is a brilliant idea. It forces you to feel you have to pay attention to every single moment. You can’t look away, not even for a second unless you want to risk missing. A lot of the times for films you can be a passive watcher, you’ll be watching the film but you won’t really be fully focused on it, you’ll be thinking of how hungry you are, whether England will win the world cup (Spoilers; yes! But not the football one, the cheese-rolling world cup), or whether that person sitting in front of you will ever SHUT UP and if he doesn’t stop talking you’re going to go down there and twat him with a crowbar. This, you’re very active, you can tell this even in the body language of the people who were watching it whilst I was there; everyone was leaning forward. It’s not just that that makes it seem the work of a seasoned director, the way they cut between scenes is unique, and brilliant, and is sure to lead to many poor directors attempting to imitate it and failing miserably.

This makes the very last scene even more frustrating. The film does a brilliant job throughout of teasing you with the truth, giving you glimpses of why what is happening is happening. Which makes it very puzzling that the final scene is someone explaining exactly what it was about, it would be like if you were watching The Thing and at the end John Carpenter appeared on screen and said “That guy on the left, he’s not human”. It treats the audience with so much respect for most of the film an then thinks we’re idiots who need it explained to us for the final section. I mean, I am an idiot, but still.

That being said, kudos to the film for having the sheer balls to kill what looked like the main character, and so brutally too, I like marketing works like that, when it deliberately deceives you, but not in a way that you feel cheated, but in a way that it means the story beats come as a complete surprise. It’s the way of saying “okay, now all bets are off” and it throws you off, I love it.

So should you see it? Maaaaaybe. There’s another film you should watch first: The Witch. If you hated that, you’d hate this too. But if you liked it, you’d like this too.