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Alongside Army of the Dead spin-off Army of Thieves, Netflix shows off armies of lawyers in Todd Hayne’s excellent Dark Waters. Meanwhile, BBC iPlayer hosts a wealth of horror films in time for Halloween, including classics like Don’t Look Now, The Exorcist and Poltergeist, as well as more contemporary hits like The Babadook and The Conjuring.
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Dark Waters - Netflix
A film that was perhaps a victim of unfair expectation on release — that it would be just like the sumptuous highlights of the rest of Todd Hayne’s filmography — Dark Waters only gets better and better with each watch.
Based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare" by Nathaniel Rich, Mark Ruffalo plays the real life attorney Robert Bilott, who uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to chemical waste dumping by DuPont, one of the world’s largest corporations.
Watch Mark Ruffalo and Todd Haynes talk to Yahoo about Dark Waters
The investigation becomes a 20 year battle, one that begins to consume his life. Rather than the autumnal, Douglas Sirk-esque suburbia of Carol and Far From Heaven, Hayne’s usual collaborator Edward Lachman creates an immense foreboding out of austere office environments and seemingly innocuous, entrenched capitalist institutions, shot as though the walls are constantly closing in on Bilott.
It’s an underusing and perhaps under appreciated work in Haynes’s oeuvre, a damning portrayal of how literally poisonous it is for our lives to be chained to the whims of such corporations.
Army of Thieves - Netflix
When watching Zack Snyder’s perfectly okay, if a bit long zombie flick Army of the Dead, the idea of a prequel spin-off starring the nervous, wisecracking German safecracker was probably far from everybody’s mind.
But that’s what has happened, with Ludwig Dieter (a returning Matthias Schweighöfer, who also directs) left to take part in another zombie apocalypse heist mission, though set before Army of the Dead, something that dilutes that film’s uniqueness somewhat. A mysterious woman (Nathalie Emmanuel, sporting a vast wealth of different hairstyles) recruits Dieter — at this point going by a different name and working as a bank teller, aspiring to be safecracker — to lead a group of aspiring thieves on a top-secret heist during the early stages of the zombie apocalypse. Dieter is lead to… a safecracking competition, and his journey starts from there.
Watch an Army of Thieves trailer
Taking this perspective is both a strange idea and apparently, not a great idea either, with a lot of the appeal of its predecessor wiped away, and Schweighöfer not quite working as a lead, as his performance swings between amusingly nervy and annoyingly shrill. Even though Snyder’s work in Army of the Dead looked more greyed out and blandly televisual than usual, his visceral and over-the-top visual style feels conspicuously absent too. Some of the gaudiness remains with plenty of speed-ramping, and large title cards announcing members of the team, plus some straight-faced silliness remains (an early highlight is a news channel silently showing “breaking news: zombie apocalypse”). There’s a playfulness with genre there too, but it’s not quite enough to buoy a mostly inert story and bloated runtime.
Also new on Netflix: Night Teeth
Don’t Look Now - BBC iPlayer
Nicholas Roeg’s unconventional horror Don’t Look Now terrifies and unsettles with its palpably real fear of loss. Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland give all-timer performances as Laura and John, parents desperately trying to cling onto their past feels palpably real even as the situation around them devolves into surreality, their marriage constantly on the brink of ruin.
Grieved by the loss of their daughter, they meet in Venice, where John is in charge of the restoration of a church. During this time they meet two mysterious sisters, one of whom gives them a message apparently sent from the afterlife.
Watch a clip from Don't Look Now
Don’t Look Now is a pretty unconventional horror film, though its portrayal of parental anxiety and broken relationships is frequently echoed in contemporary, so-called “elevated horror”. (It’s tempting to place Don’t Look Now on a pedestal for moving more toward quiet discomfort than gore and jump scares, but let’s not do that.)
The film defied boundaries in a number of manners with its fragmented imagery and off-kilter ominousness and the most talked-about is its sex scene between the two grieving parents, edited in such a way to get around requests to tone it down, without dulling its sensuality. Perhaps not everyone’s first choice for the spooky season, but one very much worth considering.
Also new on BBC iPlayer: The Exorcist, Interview With The Vampire