Two brothers return to visit the doomsday cult they escaped from many years ago, and discover maybe those crazy cult-members weren’t entirely wrong after all. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are two of the best filmmakers working today, and The Endless shows they are only getting better and better. Benson and Moorhead wrote, directed, produced, edited and starred in this movie that embodies “DIY” and stretch their budget to the maximum in one of the most impressive indies in recent memory.
The Endless is a tale of brotherly love at heart, set against a Lovecraftian background – though Benson and Moorhead are less interested in monsters hiding in the dark shadows of New England than they are in Lovecraft’s ideas about fear of the unknown. The movie builds up the tension through atmosphere, with a beautiful use of shadows and sound effects to create a palpable sense of dread that will have you guessing if that strange noise is just the wind, or perhaps something more sinister. Sharp dialogue, disturbing imagery and the prospect of a shared universe thanks to a surprising connection to the duo’s first movie Resolution should put this one high on your list of most anticipated movies.
Mom and Dad
I struggled with this one because it’s the only movie on the list that not only has distribution, but it’s getting released really early in the year. However, I would hate for this movie to get lost of the endless sea of new releases, so I decided to add it anyway.
This is the definition of a midnight-madness movie. A roller-coaster ride of insanity that finally dares to unleash our Lord Nicolas Cage to be his most Nicolas Cage. The man behind the OneTrueGod meme and Selma Blair play upper middle-class, suburban parents who live in a nice neighbourhood. He has a good job he doesn’t like, and she is a stay-at-home mom. Their two kids are as normal as they get, a teenage daughter who uses her phone too much and steals from her mom, and a spoiled younger son who thinks too highly of himself. Then something, a signal or a virus, is released and all the parents in the world get a raving urge to kill kids. Not just any kids, they get a voracious urge to murder their own kids the most brutal and over the top ways imaginable.
This is as B-movie as it gets, but if you are into the core idea of adults murdering children of all ages – all ages – then Mom and Dad will make for an incredibly fun time that also has something to say about parenting and regret. Written and directed by Brian Taylor, half the insane filmmaking team behind such hits as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Gamer and the Crank movies makes his solo debut with a script so ludicrous it defies criticism. Taylor’s direction makes every absurdity (and there are many) stand out by injecting it adrenaline-style directly into your heart until your head explodes.
Mom and Dad is a campy, schlocky, weird, brutal and over the top thriller that has Nicolas Cage achieve peak meme and completely change the way you look at a popular children’s song.
The world is ending, and humanity is dying as they lost the capacity to reproduce. The only way to survive is by sending people to the underground, to find the DNA humanity left behind in the clones they used as a work force then discarded a thousand years ago.
This stop-motion animated feature is as impressive as they come. Visionary (or madman) Takahide Hori spent eight years working on his debut feature with a scale and grandeur hat screams big Hollywood blockbuster, but with the attention to detail and care only a project this personal could have. The injuries of our robotic human protagonist as he ventures into the Earth’s core, the living dioramas and giant set pieces pulsating with life, the H.R. Giger-inspired creatures of the underground, the varied mutant clones that dwell on the dim-lit industrial subterrain are so detailed you can’t help but sit dumbfounding at all the information you’re processing, while never feeling like it’s distracting you from the movie. Hori also rewards the audience with a finale action set piece that is as thematically rich as it is a marvel to look at.
Unfortunately, the fate of Junk Head is uncertain, as Takahide Hori doesn’t own the distribution rights to the film, and the company holding those rights is just sitting on the film. Let’s hope this issue gets resolved soon so the world can experience this gripping and beautifully dark dystopian stop-motion movie.
I couldn’t resist the chance to write about this film, though it came out in 2016 and its distribution is uncertain, it played in a bunch of film festivals around the world i 2017 – and it is just too damn good not to mention it! Bad Black has without a doubt the lowest budget of the list, and it is all the more impressive because of it. This is also the only movie I’ve seen get a standing ovation for a single line of dialog in the middle of a screening.
A woman steals the tag from a mild-mannered doctor, who must now train in the art of ass-kicking commando vengeance by a ghetto kid named Wesley Snipes to get his tags back. There will be a lot of dead bodies in the way of doctor commando, and this is only one of a multitude of subplots in this movie. You really don’t need to know more about the story, but the behind the scenes is even more exciting.
Bad Black was made for less than $200 in the ghetto outside Kampala, Uganda. It is written, directed, produced, edited and shot by self-taught filmmaker/crazy genius Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey (IGG). Anyone else would tell you never to make an action movie with such a low budget, but action the only thing Isaac knows. Best known for the Youtube-hit trailer for the first Ugandan action movie Who Killed Captain Alex? Isaac and his crack crew have made dozens of exuberant and exhilarating action films in the slums of what they refer to as Wakaliwood. Despite props, weapons, and gear all being built from scrap parts and the ludicrously cheap CG explosions made with computers the director salvaged form the garbage, this movie manages to inspire more heart and soul than 99% of Hollywood blockbusters. This is more than just a so-bad-it’s-good film, this is a work of love that shows it takes a literal village to make a movie, it is also a lot of fun.
As Ugandan tradition dictates, this fantastical mayhem is somehow made coherent by Emmie Bbatte, the film’s narrator/video-joker that serves as translator, emcee, roaster, travel guide and a character all in one. The VJ is responsible for the aforementioned standing ovation for the best jokes in the movie, and for making this one of the best experiences you will ever have. If you don’t believe, try and watch the opening scene above without laughing.
Rafael Motamayor is a journalist and movie geek based in Norway. You can follow him on Twitter