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Barbarian (18, 102 mins) 

Review:  ****

Verdict: Horror with laughs

Triangle Of Sadness (15, 147 mins)

Review: ****

Verdict: Laughs with horror

With sharpened talons and yellowing fangs, Halloween is bearing down on us. So if you’re intent on matching a film to the occasion, look no further than Barbarian, in which talons and fangs loom large.

It’s a low-budget production, which has already done excellent business at the U.S. box office — and deservedly so; it is smart, scary and altogether an auspicious solo debut for writer-director Zach Cregger.

He is best known as a comic actor, and there are some cherishable moments of humour in Barbarian, but it’s primarily a horror-thriller which, like so many films in our post-MeToo age, addresses man’s inhumanity to woman.

In common with Jordan Peele’s brilliant Get Out (2017), it’s an all-American story with a Brit in the lead, in this case the terrific Georgina Campbell. 

She plays Tess, who arrives late on a rainy night at an Airbnb rental in a run-down Detroit neighbourhood, then finds to her disbelief that there’s a man already staying there, having booked the place through another rental agency.

With sharpened talons and yellowing fangs, Halloween is bearing down on us. So if you’re intent on matching a film to the occasion, look no further than Barbarian, in which talons and fangs loom large

With sharpened talons and yellowing fangs, Halloween is bearing down on us. So if you’re intent on matching a film to the occasion, look no further than Barbarian, in which talons and fangs loom large

With sharpened talons and yellowing fangs, Halloween is bearing down on us. So if you’re intent on matching a film to the occasion, look no further than Barbarian, in which talons and fangs loom large

This is Keith (Bill Skarsgard) who, like Tess, seems mystified by the apparent mix-up. Their early scenes together are the film’s best, as Cregger cleverly weaves a sense of impending dread out of an entirely prosaic situation.

Keith seems like a nice guy, gallantly offering to sleep on the sofa and let her have the only bed, and Tess’s understandable caginess recedes when they start bonding over a bottle of red wine and a shared passion for music.

Casting Skarsgard was a nice touch, given that horror fans know him from the It films as Pennywise, the demonic clown. Can his character here be as decent as he appears to be?

Let’s just say that there turns out to be a forbiddingly extensive basement underneath the property, but just as things are getting truly dark in more ways than one, the focus switches abruptly to sun-lit California, where obnoxious actor A.J. Kilbride discovers that his female co-star in a recent production is accusing him of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’. At first, we seem to have blundered into a different film entirely. But soon the connections are made.

It’s a low-budget production, which has already done excellent business at the U.S. box office — and deservedly so; it is smart, scary and altogether an auspicious solo debut for writer-director Zach Cregger

It’s a low-budget production, which has already done excellent business at the U.S. box office — and deservedly so; it is smart, scary and altogether an auspicious solo debut for writer-director Zach Cregger

It’s a low-budget production, which has already done excellent business at the U.S. box office — and deservedly so; it is smart, scary and altogether an auspicious solo debut for writer-director Zach Cregger

She plays Tess, who arrives late on a rainy night at an Airbnb rental in a run-down Detroit neighbourhood, then finds to her disbelief that there’s a man already staying there, having booked the place through another rental agency

She plays Tess, who arrives late on a rainy night at an Airbnb rental in a run-down Detroit neighbourhood, then finds to her disbelief that there’s a man already staying there, having booked the place through another rental agency

She plays Tess, who arrives late on a rainy night at an Airbnb rental in a run-down Detroit neighbourhood, then finds to her disbelief that there’s a man already staying there, having booked the place through another rental agency

Keith seems like a nice guy, gallantly offering to sleep on the sofa and let her have the only bed, and Tess’s understandable caginess recedes when they start bonding over a bottle of red wine and a shared passion for music

Keith seems like a nice guy, gallantly offering to sleep on the sofa and let her have the only bed, and Tess’s understandable caginess recedes when they start bonding over a bottle of red wine and a shared passion for music

Keith seems like a nice guy, gallantly offering to sleep on the sofa and let her have the only bed, and Tess’s understandable caginess recedes when they start bonding over a bottle of red wine and a shared passion for music

Let’s just say that there turns out to be a forbiddingly extensive basement underneath the property, but just as things are getting truly dark in more ways than one, the focus switches abruptly to sun-lit California

Let’s just say that there turns out to be a forbiddingly extensive basement underneath the property, but just as things are getting truly dark in more ways than one, the focus switches abruptly to sun-lit California

Let’s just say that there turns out to be a forbiddingly extensive basement underneath the property, but just as things are getting truly dark in more ways than one, the focus switches abruptly to sun-lit California

First, Kilbride needs to raise money to pay his legal fees and he is the owner of the house in his home town of Detroit, so back he goes to put it on the market.

Second, Cregger’s clear message is that sexual predators come in varying forms. By the time we are whisked back to Reagan-era America to learn the story’s origins, we have a clearer sense of where all of this might be leading.

Yet Cregger still shows us his playful side with a very funny sequence in which Kilbride excitedly measures the impressive square footage of his property’s basement, blinded by his greed to its extreme creepiness.

Classic film on TV 

Singin’ In The Rain (1952) 

If there was nothing more to this evergreen delight than Gene Kelly’s title song and accompanying hoofing, it would still be a joy. But it overflows throughout with wit and charm. Saturday, 2.50pm, BBC2 

But it’s not long before we’re back in full horror mode, and with that, as so often in films such as this, comes a gradual unshackling of credibility. That’s a shame, because the story, firmly rooted in believable situations, doesn’t need to get quite so overwrought.

Nevertheless, it’s done with tremendous swagger, a raft of fine performances, and those few good laughs make the chills even chillier.

Triangle Of Sadness is more or less the opposite: a truly funny film with moments of horror, albeit of the gross-out variety.

I first saw it at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it was a worthy winner of the Palme d’Or, five years after Swedish writer-director Ruben Ostlund won the same illustrious award for his art-world satire The Square.

This film is divided into three chapters, linked by two beautiful young people: fashion models Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean, who very tragically died two months ago).

To begin with, it’s a wonderfully observed comedy of modern manners, as the pair squabble over a restaurant bill. There’s also a glorious scene in which he struggles with the lights in a hotel bedroom, greeted with explosions of laughter in Cannes as everyone in the audience recognised their own hotel light-switch battles. In the second chapter, Yaya, as an ‘Instagram influencer’ (with Carl as her plus-one) is invited on to a luxury cruise ship skippered by a drunk (Woody Harrelson, conspicuously having a ball).

Triangle Of Sadness is more or less the opposite: a truly funny film with moments of horror, albeit of the gross-out variety

Triangle Of Sadness is more or less the opposite: a truly funny film with moments of horror, albeit of the gross-out variety

Triangle Of Sadness is more or less the opposite: a truly funny film with moments of horror, albeit of the gross-out variety

The film now turns into Upstairs, Downstairs with (gold) knobs on, a full-on and increasingly unsubtle social satire with the complacent rich above decks, and the incorrigibly obsequious below.

Then a storm strikes and Ostlund steers his film, on a tide of epic seasickness, practically into Monty Python waters.

The film’s final chapter sees the survivors of the storm — and a subsequent pirate attack —marooned on an island, where a Filipino cleaner (Dolly de Leon), as the only one who can catch fish and make a fire, entirely subverts the social order.

None of this happens concisely. Like The Square, Triangle Of Sadness rather outstays its welcome. But also like The Square, it contains at least one scene that, without wanting to go similarly overboard myself, deserves nothing less than cinematic immortality.

A modern rom-com . . . with echoes of Woody Allen

Bros (15, 115 mins, ****) is pronounced to rhyme with floes, not floss, and has nothing to do with the 1980s band of that name. Instead, it’s a New York City-set romantic comedy very much of and for our times, with gay rather than heterosexual protagonists.

Yet it never feels like a ‘statement’ movie. And it’s certainly a sight more engaging than the last straight rom-com I saw, the clunky George Clooney-Julia Roberts vehicle Ticket To Paradise.

The director and co-writer is Nicholas Stoller, whose impressive list of credits includes Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Yes Man and Muppets Most Wanted. 

He is a protege of comedy-film titan Judd Apatow, although, actually, Bros put me more in mind of Woody Allen in his Manhattan prime, had Allen written about homosexual love rather than that between older men and much younger women.

Bros: Eichner (left) and Macfarlane. It’s a New York City-set romantic comedy very much of and for our times, with gay rather than heterosexual protagonists

Bros: Eichner (left) and Macfarlane. It’s a New York City-set romantic comedy very much of and for our times, with gay rather than heterosexual protagonists

Bros: Eichner (left) and Macfarlane. It’s a New York City-set romantic comedy very much of and for our times, with gay rather than heterosexual protagonists

Stoller’s co-writer is Billy Eichner, who also plays the charismatic but perennially single Bobby Lieber, director of a museum about LBGTQ history. 

The story follows the ups and downs of his burgeoning relationship with Aaron (Luke Macfarlane), a sensitive but boyfriend-averse hunk he meets at a nightclub. And that’s basically it, but it’s slick, sweet and, at times, extremely funny. I also really liked Emily The Criminal (15, 97 mins, ****), starring the always-compelling Aubrey Plaza in the title role as a tough young woman working for a catering company, struggling to pay off her student debt.

Emily, with a couple of convictions behind her for fairly minor felonies, is prevented by her rap sheet from landing a better-paid job. But she finds a way to make easy money by joining a gang committing credit-card fraud.

The film, which is available to watch on most digital platforms, was shot in just 20 days but is a hugely assured debut for writer-director John Patton Ford.

Source: | Dailymail.co.uk

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