Grim Pickings for Cinema & Home Entertainment this week…

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GRIM PICKINGS this week includes key dates to dismember for this year’s MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL along with the home entertainment release of an intense new action film told entirely in first-person. Here’s what’s releasing locally this week…

In Cinemas

Thursday August 4th
When young urbanites Ian and Sam decide to go camping, they arrive at their isolated destination to discover another tent already set up, but no sign of its owners. With the other campers at large, Ian and Sam’s discovery of a child wandering alone sets off a terrifying chain of events that will push them to their limits – and beyond. Inspired by Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, writer/director Damien Power’s gloriously tense and unsettling feature-film debut Killing Ground showcases a menacingly against-type Aaron Pedersen, in a low-budget survival thriller pulsing with high-stakes scares, piercing intensity and shocking violence that will make you think twice next time you dare to head beyond the bright lights of the city.

Friday August 5th
Legendary horror director Don Coscarelli (John Dies at the End, MIFF 2013) cemented his cult status with this beloved 1979 film. Nearly 40 years on, it is now considered one of the most influential classics of the genre. It even inspired JJ Abrams to name Star Wars villain Captain Phasma after the film’s iconic killer ball. Abrams himself, and his Bad Robot company, headed up the stunning 4K restoration of Phantasm, a new digital print and 5.1 audio soundtrack that makes this icon of B-movie horror look and sound better than it ever has. In the wake of the death earlier this year of the film’s unforgettably terrifying star, Angus Scrimm, this restored version serves as a worthy tribute. Set in a small town plagued by mysterious deaths, the story centres on Mike, a young boy who becomes convinced that a local mortician, the mysterious Tall Man (Scrimm), is responsible, with a floating chrome ball taking out his victims, then reanimating the dead bodies to serve as his minions. But can Mike, with help from his brother Jody and family friend Reggie, stop him?

Weird. terrifying. Funny. Or just WTF? This collection of cinematic oddities is difficult to classify any other way.

Saturday August 6th
On a small, sun-drenched Greek island, resident doctor Kostis (an excellent Makis Papadimitriou, who can also been seen in this year’s Chevalier) develops an infatuation with young, sexually uninhibited tourist Anna, who lives in a world free of responsibility, dictated by hedonism. Blinded by the desire to escape his mundane middle-age existence, Kostis attempts to re-enter a lifestyle fuelled by decadence but the harsh reality of his sagging, pale skin juxtaposed against Anna and her friends’ naked golden tans is only the beginning of his ruination. Boldly directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos (co-director of Wasted Youth, MIFF 2011), Suntan is a decisive, disconcerting exposition of our endless race against the clock and the need to recognise when it’s time to farewell nights laden with shot glasses and promiscuity.

A routine night for a squad of police officers descends into nightmare when they receive an emergency call for backup. Beyond that, it’s better to discover for yourself.Winning Evrenol the Best Director gong at Fantastic Fest, Baskin has been called “the best horror film of the year” by fellow genre filmmaker Richard Stanley, and “one of the best horror films of the decade” by Shock Till You Drop! Rising above pure exploitation thanks to its highly symbolic waking-dream structure, it’s bound to be one of the most discussed films of the festival.

The true-crime obsession sparked by Making a Murderer and The Jinx continues in knuckle-biting fashion with Beware the Slenderman, a story that is still unfolding in real-time. The film, though, is best viewed with nothing more than a cursory knowledge of the events behind it: in 2014, 12-year-old friends Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser stabbed another 12-year-old, Payton ‘Bella’ Leutner, 19 times to appease a fictional internet meme: an elongated, faceless bogeyman called Slenderman. Remarkably, Bella lived, and her young attackers now wait for their judgment in court. When asked why they did it, Morgan replied, “Because it was necessary.” Using snippets from the police interrogations of the two girls, interviews with their parents, sessions with online and psychological experts, and a brilliantly assembled montage of online ephemera, Beware the Slenderman poses the bigger questions of accountability at a time when technology is ubiquitous and readily accessible by impressionable minds.

Home Entertainment

Wednesday August 3rd
Strap in. Hardcore Henry is one of the most unflinchingly original wild-rides to hit the big screen in a long time: You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife (Haley Bennett). She tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go get her back. Who’s got her? His name’s Akan (Danila Kozlovsky); he’s a powerful warlord with an army of mercenaries, and a plan for world domination. You’re also in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. Everyone except for a mysterious British fellow called Jimmy (Sharlto Copley). He may be on your side, but you aren’t sure. If you can survive the insanity, and solve the mystery, you might just discover your purpose and the truth behind your identity. Good luck, Henry. You’re likely going to need it.

Psychologist Peter Bower’s life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers that the patients he has been seeing are ghosts. Risking his own sanity, Peter delves into his past to uncover a terrifying secret which only he can put right. Backtrack is a spine-chilling psychological thriller from the acclaimed writer-director, Michael Petroni.

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