Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Tag: reviews

Film review — What We Do Is Secret

Written and shot like a TV movie-of-the-week, What We Do Is Secret renders the chaotic story of LA hardcore band the Germs largely limp and lifeless. Indeed, its most remarkable feature, and an ironic one given the laissez-faire attention to detail throughout (like the burly Bronx standing in for the actually quite wiry and frenetic Black Flag pre-Rollins), is its uncomfortable relish in depicting the venomous homophobia amid the scene at the time. More…


Film review — The Hunt

Satire really only works with a defined target. The Hunt’s satire, unfortunately, is about as scattershot as an AR-15, while at times it approaches a level of smugness only rivalled by the worst of South Park. It’s better just to ignore all that and home in on Betty Gilpin’s badass lead, as she Rambos her way through this latest twist on The Most Dangerous Game. More…


Film review — DeepStar Six

Get this, kids: it’s well over an hour before this film gives us our first glimpse of its big scary monster. And it’s a decent creature, actually, even if they minimised its screen time to hide rough edges. The bigger issue is that DeepStar Six spends an uncomfortable amount of time in the preceding 67 minutes letching after Nia Peeples, who seems like she’s being set up as the Ripley of the piece (this being Sean Cunningham’s ‘Alien Under Water’, more or less) before she all but disappears from the plot. And then gets eaten. Spoiler alert? More…


Film review — Chuck

I have nowt to say about this movie, except two things: one, I’d forgotten Chuck Wepner had a boxer-versus-wrestler match with Andre the Giant; and two, you’re telling me the casting director couldn’t find anyone who looked even a little bit like Muhammad Ali? More…


Film review — First Love

There’s a sweet romance at the core of this genre-mashup Yakuza flick, but Takashi Miike’s First Love is really all about the comedy of errors as its rogue’s gallery of characters — bent cops, inept gangsters and even bungling brain doctors — flail around Tokyo after hours. More…


Film review — Space Truckers

This was made at Ardmore in Wicklow (with a scattering of other locations: I spotted the Civic Offices, and maybe Dollymount Strand?) and I remember the buzz as if we’d scored some big Hollywood production (Dennis Hopper! Stephen Dorff! Names we’ve heard of!) when in reality it was a cheap and cheerful slice of post-Charles Band space-ploitation. Critics absolutely piled on it at the time, but there’s really a lot to love. More…


Film review — Beetlejuice

A few things to note here, having watched this for the first time in donkey’s years: there’s a set-up, but basically no real plot, it’s more an experience than a movie; it does not out-stay its welcome, all wrapped up in a neat 90 minutes; and Michael Keaton is the GOAT. More…


Film review — Come to Daddy

I was really not enjoying this — the humouring of awful people isn’t my bag, to say the least — and then comes the twist (lifted from [REDACTED], pretty much) and it becomes something genuinely fucked up. But still about the humouring of awful people. So I can’t say I liked it, but at least it was unexpected? More…


Film review — Police Academy

Why am I watching these? Am I that desperately ill this week? Anyway, the first instalment of the Police Academy franchise surprised me by a) not being as actively terrible as you might imagine or remember, and b) really going for the racial ‘humour’ to a startling degree, even if the black cast members are explicitly not the butt of the joke. More…


Film review — Girl on the Third Floor

CM Punk — excuse me, Phil Brooks — stars in this economical haunted house horror with a clear feminist message, but a less clear backstory/mythos that’s bungled in the execution. Bonus points for a brooding soundtrack courtesy of Alison Chesley (Helen Money) and Steve Albini, and a really beautifully done opening title sequence. More…


Film review — Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II

There’s enough good material here for a 90-minute, maybe two-hour oral history of the making of these late 1980s horror classics. For some inexplicable reason, however, the makers of Leviathan decided they needed three-and-a-half hours, shoving in what seems like all of the material they gathered (whether it adds to the story or not, and even then it’s wanting in certain areas, like the Coil soundtrack), and topping it off with a voice-over that’s both poorly scripted and terribly recorded. Strictly amateur hour on the production front here, so, and it does the interesting anecdotes (of which there are quite a few) serious disservice. More…


Film review — Why Horror?

I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to watch this had it not been streaming on a service I just got a free month for, but it’s a fun little exploration of why horror cinema matters as a personal and cultural phenomenon. It’s breezy and light in tone, but also substance; there’s scope for someone else to pick up the baton and blow this into a series, investigating, say, whether mainstream aversion to horror as a genre is unique to the western context. Not just why horror, but how? More…


Film review — Suspiria

I’m not especially a fan of Argento’s original (stylistically it’s a winner; his giallos appeal more in substance) but this? It’s metaphor straining for meaning; hollow, pretentious. It’s a compendium of all the worst tendencies coddled by the art-housing of horror. More…


Film review — Le Mans ’66

Ford v Ferrari is not an inspiring title. It reduces the substance of this quasi-biopic to a mere clash between rival car brands, implying a corporate-driven monstrosity on par with, say, The Emoji Movie. If they’d used the title under which it was released over here, Le Mans ’66 – think French sophistication, retro chic, Steve McQueen and Paul fucking Newman – perhaps it would have fared better with those who’ve dismissed it out of hand. Turns out, it really is all about the image. More…


Film review — Hail Satan?

Very much like the group it depicts, Hail Satan? is less about contemporary organised Satanism as a thing than it is about highlighting the hypocrisy of an insidious theocratic Christianity and the people who buy into its bullshit. It doesn’t really add anything new to the thesis, but it’ll while away an hour and a half. More…


Film review — Doctor Sleep

Think of Doctor Sleep less as a sequel to an indelible Kubrick classic and more of an overzealous fan’s tribute to same. It’s got a different, lesser kind of obsessive attention to detail, with none of the aesthetic flair, and ultimately gets lost in the maze of its own references (not only to The Shining; the villains are straight out of Near Dark). But it also kind of works, if you treat it as a standalone piece with only a casual, if enthusiastic, connection to the original. Honestly, I’d mostly given up on Mike Flanagan — the good (Oculus, Before I Wake) is outweighed by the bad (Hush, Ouija, The Haunting of Hill House) — but this restores my faith a little. More…


Film review — Terminator: Dark Fate

I imagine a bunch of saddo men have moaned about the new Terminator requel (a new word I just made up*, a portmanteau of reboot and sequel) that it’s too political or feminist or whatever. Which is of course ignorant of the fact that the franchise is inherently political — Government contractors messing about with rogue AI? That’s politics, bozos! — and that since the second film, a woman kicking ass as much as if not more than the men has been kind of central to its thing. More…


Film review — Violent Cop

It’s remarkable enough that Takeshi Kitano made a film this good on his first go. But knowing he fell into the job by accident when Kinji Fukasaku had to pull out? That’s just taking the piss, like. More…


Film review — Stoker

There’s a bit in this film where Mia Wasikowska’s character comes to a stunning realisation, and the camera tilts to bring a lampshade fixture on the wall behind into frame: a literal lightbulb moment. I didn’t know whether to laugh or run away to join the circus. More…


Film review — Demonlover

Watched this based on its thematic comparisons with Videodrome (it’s kind of that crossed with In the Company of Men, if you want my facile elevator pitch) and… nah, not my bag. Too long and meandering for an espionage thriller, not engaging enough to work as a mood piece — and then in its final few minutes it devolves into some kind of live-action video game, which was probably interpreted at the time as saying something about yadda yadda but it’s nothing more than a provocative stylistic wheeze. Blah. More…


Film review — Videodrome

David Cronenberg must think back on this film, nearly 40 years after the fact, and get chills. Not so much for the prescience of the themes (the deleterious effects of life mediated through screens, sure, alongside hefty slices of transhumanism, dark enlightenment and totalitarian tendencies) but because his extremist depictions more or less came true. More…


Film review — It: Chapter Two

Three whole hours and they couldn’t even muster an ounce of the frights or the tension of its predecessor. Instead, they decided to make some kind of hamfisted tribute to Evil Dead II? I don’t get it. More…


Film review — Fighting with My Family

It’s hard to watch this as a wrestling fan, knowing that one can pull up Paige’s debut on Raw within a matter of moments on the WWE Network and witness the enormous pop for her entrance, and her effortless confidence in the ring — nothing at all like the timid ingenue before a dead crowd that the film would have us believe. There’s a lot of that revisionism here, pushing the credulity of kayfabe, but there’s also a lot of genuine rapport between Florence Pugh’s Paige and the rest of her fighting family that makes it worth sticking out. So, bad as a wrestling movie, but decent as an irreverent comedy-drama, I suppose? More…


Film review — Leviathan

There was something in the water, pardon the pun, with 1989’s proliferation of subaquatic thrillers: The Abyss, DeepStar Six and this here Leviathan, where the pitch is more or less ‘What if Alien, but like The Thing, at the bottom of the ocean?’ Sounds alright, but these people exercise such poor contamination protocol, they deserve everything they get, so the only thing left to root for is the monster. More…


Film review — Gemini Man

As rote as it gets for an action movie, sigh. I don’t even have any witty remarks about the high frame rate nonsense as it saw it in ’normal’ HD. More…


Film review — Honey Boy

No time to write up a proper review of this one, but I have thoughts. Mostly around the idea of this being yet another narrative of familial abuse and estrangement where redemption is achieved through reconnection and forgiveness as if that path is mandatory. Honey Boy presents itself as something different, and to be fair it’s remarkably staged and beautifully shot, with performances that deserve awards attention for going where you might not expect. (And yes, I know it’s Shia LaBeouf adapting his own relationship with his father for the screen.) But in essence it’s as clichéd as the rest of ’em. And that cliché, an almost bullying edict (‘You must forgive your parents even if they’ve been extraordinarily shitty to you!’), is not something I care to stomach. More…