A Horrible Way to Die (2011, dir. Adam Wingard)

Clearly owing a lot to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, this violent and disconcerting horror attempts to get under your skin with its broodingly mysterious narrative.

Played out in non-chronological order, the film builds towards its twist-centric conclusion. It’s a clever and unpredictable surprise; a decent payoff and one which the film desperately needs.

A Horrible Way to Die never excels past medium interest levels, but solid acting and a decent script stop it from slipping into mediocrity. The most offensive parts of the film are the numerous moments of perplexingly bad cinematography – an overuse of crude handheld cameras and strange pans culminate in an unpalatable viewing experience.

Not exactly a landmark of its genre, it is, however, still watchable. A decent choice for a late-evening DVD.

Saint (2011, dir. Dick Mass)

This completely bonkers Dutch Christmas tale depicts St Nic as a horse-riding member of the undead who, every forty years or so, goes on a murderous ramage under the light of a December 5th full moon.

Brilliantly balancing comedy and violence, this may be a light-hearted festival season romp – well, for those without a squeamish disposition – but it is thoroughly entertaining. Some will call it trash, but they would be overlooking its numerous low-brow merits. If you managed to catch it (no general UK cinema release as of yet) it’ll probably be some of the most fun you’ll have at the cinema this year.

Revenge: A Love Story (2011, dir. Ching-Po Wong)

A brutal and relentlessly dark tale of rape and revenge, this apparent love story pulls no punches with its grim narrative.

Thematically bleak, this is only matched by the equally bleak visuals – after a while they become repressive, the palet of constant greys overwhelming the senses desire for light and colour.

It’s a solidly made and well acted take on the revenge plot – ultimately showing us that the aforementioned is futile, and that violence only spawns more violence. The first half of the narrative is full of mystery and intrigue, though this dries up a little in the second half as we make our way to the relatively satisfying, if obvious, conclusion.

It’s a climax without a huge amount of redeeming points to it. You look back on the story and wonder what exactly the ‘good’ characters could have done differently to have avoided the majority of awfulness that flows their way. Perhaps, it seems, this may have been just a series of unfortunate and unavoidable events.

Tom Grater

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