Saturday 21 July 2018


Directed by: Alexandros Avranas, Starring: Jim Carrey, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marton Csokas. Crime/Drama/Thriller, Poland 2016, 89mins, Cert 18.

The last film I saw which starred Jim Carrey was MR POPPER’S PENGUINS. I liked that film far more than DARK CRIMES. Based on an article in ‘The New Yorker’ magazine, the script adds a fictional final twist which can be seen from a mile off in spite of the murky cinematography which accompanies this dour, ponderously paced, (non)thriller.

A wealthy businessman is murdered after attending a BDSM underground club called ‘The Cage’. Unsolved for a year, disgraced near-to-retirement detective Tadek (Jim Carrey) reopens the investigation partly to regain some of his lost honour, and partly to get one over on his superior. Kozlow, a controversial novelist (Marton Csokas), releases an audio book which appears to chronicle details concerning the murder which were never made public. Detective Tadek sets his sights on the author employing decidedly underhand tactics in order to get a confession out of him. In fact, so blinkered is Tadek in his pursuit that he fails to notice the toll his obsession is taking on his wife, daughter, and elderly dependent mother.

Straining with every sinew to suppress even a hint of expression, Jim Carrey is a shadow of his former self, even his beard emotes more. To be fair the script is so underwritten there’s little to get his teeth into, and minimal dialogue for his attempted Polish accent, although I did like the methodical way he clinically dissected his bacon and eggs in the morning.

Charlotte Gainsbourg steals the film as the author’s on/off girlfriend Kasia, displaying a searing vulnerable rawness of emotion. In one key scene, her bare shoulders alone out act Carrey, and I wondered whether the narrative might have worked better had her character been the central focus rather than Carrey’s (under)hardboiled detective.

The ‘18’ certificate is briefly earned through some glimpses of naked female torture and humiliation and a couple of frankly ludicrously staged sex-scenes, one of which features Carrey in a singularly unconvincing attempt to convey his moral degradation.

DARK CRIMES is a dark film: literally. Unfortunately, it’s under lit lack of colour extends into every aspect and as a result the final fictionalised reveal deserves little more than a shrugged ‘so-what?’ And as to why Carrey chose this underwhelming vehicle in the first place, frankly I’m completely in the dark.     

**(out of 5*)

Paul Worts

This review was first published by FRIGHTFEST.

Tuesday 10 July 2018


Directed by Sergio G. Sánchez, Starring: George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton.   Drama, Horror, Spain, 2017, 110mins, Cert 15.

Making his feature film debut ,Sergio G. Sánchez, the writer of THE ORPHANAGE, this time directs his own screenplay and delivers a beautifully melancholic tale of family secrets and the horrors that unfold from them. There’s more than a touch of Poe in the gothic proceedings, and a couple of genuinely chill-inducing moments of fright which are well-earned.

It’s 1969. Eldest son Jack (George MacKay), is entrusted with the welfare of his siblings, and instructed by his mother on her rasping deathbed to maintain the pretence of her still being alive until his 21st birthday so he can become their legal guardian. Having left England for America, and having changed their name to that of their mother's childhood family home, ‘Marrowbone’, for a time their life seems relatively peaceful. However, a single rifle shot pierces the quietness, and signals a sinister turn of events that will irreparably scar Jack both psychically and mentally.

There’s a measured assurance in Sánchez’s direction, an instinctual sense of allowing the narrative to unfurl naturally, and giving the impressive young cast time to breathe life into their characters. Shrewd casting allows the film’s publicists to quote both Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS with Charlie Heaton playing Jack’s slightly younger brother Billy, and art house horror hit THE VVITCH by way of Anya Taylor-Joy as the local town librarian Allie, who makes quite an impression on the family, and especially on Jack. All the cast perform admirably, but George MacKay rightly takes centre stage as the conflicted young man burdened with responsibility, and wrestling with all-consuming guilt.

Visually, the widescreen canvas makes the most of the natural light and the dramatic Spanish vistas, shot in Asturias and Catalonia, provide an evocative and ethereal quality.

Sánchez pulls off a sleight of hand trick a third of the way into the film which reaps rich dividends in the final act, although not in a gimmicky M. Night Shyamalan way whereby the twist often appears as the raison d'être. By which point, most filmmakers would happily cut here, satisfied with their illusion, but Sánchez aims higher, and succeeds in presenting us with a bittersweet coda which is both heart-warming and poetically disturbing.

**** (out of 5*)
Paul Worts