THE BEST (AND WORST) OF 2020
It's been a crappy old year hasn't it? Lockdown affected us all at some point and movies provided a form of escapism for many but there's no denying that the industry has been hit hard, with many big releases being shelved until next year. Fortunately there were still some titles worth shouting about - and here are our faves from 2020 (and some we really didn't like)
Director: Craig Zobel
The Hunt was one of those films that had the odds stacked against it, even before the 'rona bit hard into the release schedules and started shutting cinemas down. Due to its fairly violent weapons-based premise, it's initial release was delayed because of more U.S. shootings, and even allegedly due to a certain President making some ill-judged observations on social media. It was also perceived to be an "attack on far-right" politics and suchlike. All wrong and unnecessary of course but when it was finally released in March, the publicity tried to play off this and labelled itself as, "The Most Talked about movie of the year… that no one's actually seen". This sort of hype was counter-productive and left cinemagoers expecting a different type of movie to what they got.
Which is a shame as this was one of wittiest, goriest, and just-damn-fun films of the year. This twisted and updated version of The Most Dangerous Game, mocks the far-left and the far-right, as well as action/horror genre films in general. It does all this by being a highly enjoyable romp that swerves between dumb comedy, witty banter, and some cool violence. Zobel does a great job of juggling all the different tones and plot swerves. But the film belongs to Betty Gilpin as Crystal, a simple country gal (or is she?) who says little but has an amusing set of mannerisms, and absolutely slays it when she does speak. Yes, there is some social satire, but it doesn't swamp the film, and the blood-strewn set pieces are superb (even if there is a smidgen too much CGI). Enjoyable, witty, and bloody. What more could you want?
The Invisible Man
Director: Leigh Whannell
When the Cruise version of The Mummy deep-sixed the ambitious plans for a new movie Universe (can all the studios stop doing that now please?), it looked like more updated versions of classic Universal Monsters would never happen. Luckily for us, Blumhouse studios and Whannell had something to say about and recruited sought-after actress Elisabeth Moss to their cause. The result was a film that found favour with critics AND the audience and became a huge hit. Even if that bloke had passed on the bat and eaten something less Coronary, this would likely still have been one of the biggest genre films of the year.
And rightly so! It is a cracking R-rated thriller that captivated everyone that saw it. Keeping only the name of H.G. Well's original antagonist (Griffin), it veers off into a mixture of technologically based updates, domestic abuse themes, and some jaw-dropping violence. Moss is perfect as Cecilia Kass, who is convinced that her ex-partner has faked his death and is now stalking her. But is he a ghost, is she mad, or is there something else going on? A canny mixture of paranoia and outright scares, this is exactly what a 21st Century update of a classic story/film should