Grim Pickings / 06 June 2019

Cinemas & Home Entertainment This Week…

GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember with ‘X’ marking the excrement opening on cinema screens while home entertainment serves up a slew of genre treats including two Monster Fest award-winners!


After three shifts on the theatrical schedule that bumped X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX out of late-2018 and into a mid-2019 release, our greatest fears have been confirmed…this final entry in Fox’s X-MEN saga is an absolute stinker! Despite having strong source material to work from (Chris Claremont’s THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA), writer/director Simon Kinberg’s adaptation fails to maintain focus on its primary story, mudding the narrative with far too many under-developed subplots that only lead to less than spectacular set pieces. Fox entrusting Kinberg, the screenwriter guilty for X-MEN: APOCALYPSE and FANTASTIC FOUR (2015), to deliver the final film in a beloved franchise was a massive miscalculation as well as a genuine discredit to its all-star ensemble cast (Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult et al.) who despite their best attempts can not save this colossal misfire. The X-MEN face their most formidable and powerful foe: one of their own, Jean Grey. During a rescue mission in space, Jean is nearly killed when she is hit by a mysterious cosmic force. Once she returns home, this force not only makes her infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable. Wrestling with this entity inside her, Jean unleashes her powers in ways she can neither comprehend nor contain. With Jean spiralling out of control, and hurting the ones she loves most, she begins to unravel the very fabric that holds the X-Men together. Now, with this family falling apart, they must find a way to unite — not only to save Jean’s soul, but to save our very planet from aliens who wish to weaponize this force and rule the galaxy.


Loosely based on true events, THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER is an unsettling, atmosphere-drenched and suspense-fulled exercise in slowburn horror, with an incredibly sinister performance by Dylan McDermott (AMERICAN HORROR STORY). A shocking revelation turns a teenage boy’s world upside down in this chilling look at the evil that can lurk below even the most wholesome surface. Tyler Burnside is a Boy Scout, a volunteer at his local church and the dutiful son of an upstanding community leader. Only one thing troubles the quiet town he lives in – the unsolved murder of ten women who were brutally tortured and killed by a psychopath known as Clovehitch. When Tyler discovers a cache of disturbing images in his father’s possession, he begins to suspect that the man he trusts most in the world might be Clovehitch, and that his deadly rampage may not be over. Defiant Screen Entertainment’s DVD release contains no supplementary features. 
Don’t miss your chance to WIN 1 of 3 DVDs of THE CLOVEHITCH KILLER here!
Writer/director Storm Ashwood’s supernatural Australian horror, THE SCHOOL was the breakout film of our Monster Fest Travelling Sideshow in Adelaide last year and with good reason. This fantasy horror has a striking visual style backed by a strong narrative with genuine emotional impact that also offers a rare gateway opportunity to genre cinema for younger audiences. Amy (Megan Drury), a doctor, wife and grieving mother who is failing. It has been two years and she still cannot manage to leave her comatose son David’s side. Amy falls further into her own selfish and twisted world of obsession and denial, blocking out everything and everyone around her. Meanwhile the walls of the hospital she is neglecting begin to fall apart. Awakening in what seems to be an abandoned old school, Amy finds herself a prisoner to a hoard of displaced cultish and feral kids. Trapped in a hostile supernatural purgatory for children, Amy becomes an unwilling surrogate mother and must try and escape an impending evil. As supernatural and psychological terror ensues, Amy must find her way out, fighting against the demonic, supernatural and ultimately her own demons. Defiant Screen Entertainment’s DVD release contains no supplementary features. Don’t miss your chance to WIN 1 of 3 DVDs of THE SCHOOL here!
Winner of the ‘Golden Monster’ for ‘Best Film’ at last year’s MONSTER FEST, LORDS OF CHAOS combines a realistic look at the oft-neglected world of metal along with a beautiful Norwegian setting, the blackest of black humour and brutally visceral scenes of violence, this may be the rare film that is truly, uniquely ‘black metal’. Drawing from his experience as the drummer in a black metal band, director Jonas Åkerlund brings a level of authenticity to the screen rarely seen along with the unmistakable style that made his music video work so memorable. 
Oslo, 1987. Seventeen year-old Euronymous (Rory Culkin) is determined to escape his idyllic Scandinavian hometown and create “true Norwegian black metal” with his band, MAYHEM. He’s joined by equally fanatical youths – Dead (Jack Kilmer) and Varg (Emory Cohen). Believing that they’re on the cusp of a musical revolution, the group gets even darker driven by the black metal dogma to spread evil. They begin burning down churches throughout the countryside and stealing tombstones for their record store. But when the press catches up with them and Euronymous takes more credit than he’s earned for the group’s violent acts, Varg, fresh out of jail, arranges a dark encounter to settle the score and ultimately determine who the darkest black metal musician is. Umbrella Entertainment’s DVD release contains no supplementary features.
(DVD Only)
Unfortunately for HABIT, the bar has been set rather high for tales of modern cannibalism with RAW, Julia Ducournau’s award-winning 2016 effort. Subsequently this grimy, lacklustre and ill-paced attempt at dramatising cannibalism with a class war struggle undertone does little more than bore between its few and far between scenes of on-screen gore. Present day Manchester. Michael divides his time between the job centre and the pub. But a chance meeting with the enchanting Lee and an introduction to her ‘Uncle’ Ian, leads to a job working the door at a seedy massage parlour. After witnessing the violent death of one of the clients, Michael experiences blood-drenched flashbacks and feels himself being sucked into a twilight world that he doesn’t understand, but that is irresistibly attractive. So irresistible, that he insists on being initiated. But once he is, his world will never be the same… because some habits are hard to break, and this HABIT is deadly. Eagle Entertainment’s DVD release contains no supplementary features.
Winner of ‘Best Director’ at last year’s MONSTER FEST, THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT is a provocative and controversial thriller come black comedy that follows the decade long career of titular serial killer, Jack (Matt Dillon) as he strives to concoct his most elaborate work of psychotic genius, resulting in a darkly sinister melange of callous sophistry and disturbingly humorous sociopathy. 
Lars von Trier’s disturbing drama follows the highly intelligent Jack (Matt Dillon) over a span of 12 years and introduces the murders that define Jack’s development as a serial killer. Taking place from Jack’s point of view as he postulates each murder as an artwork in itself. Inevitably as police intervention draws near, he takes greater and greater risks in his attempt to create the ultimate masterwork. Umbrella Entertainment’s DVD release contains no supplementary features.
Filmmaker Adam McKay’s transition from oddball often dumb comedy (STEP BROTHERS, ANCHORMAN) to clever true story satire was fast cemented with his Oscar-winning 2015 feature, THE BIG SHORT and that carries through with his latest feature, VICE. As far as political biopics go, VICE, is without a doubt the funniest one we’ve ever seen and it surprisingly never skimps on details in order to deliver laughs, in fact the outrageousness of its actual events generate the bulk of the humour. With solid performances by Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell along with McKay’s distinct directorial style, VICE is a genuine crowdpleaser even for those unfamiliar with the people, politics or events the film concerns. 
Governor George W Bush (Rockwell) of Texas picks Dick Cheney (Bale), the CEO of Halliburton Co, to be his Republican running mate in the 2000 presidential election. No stranger to politics, Cheney’s impressive résumé includes stints as White House chief of staff, House Minority Whip and defence secretary. When Bush wins by a narrow margin, Cheney begins to use his newfound power to help reshape the country and the world. eOne’s Blu-ray release contains 3x Deleted Scenes, 2x Production Featurettes and an Image Gallery.

Grim Pickings is written weekly by Jarret Gahan.