• Asako I & II

    Asako I & II


    “Even at a time like this, I only care about myself.”

    Love at first sight is a near-mythical romantic dream, and the mere idea of it carries meaning regardless of its truth. Asako and Baku carry on as if they’re madly in love, though its unclear if that connection is based in anything beyond their physical attraction and a shared desire for something unobtainable; perhaps that’s enough. Ryohei’s initial appeal to Asako is profound only in its astounding coincidence —…

  • Sanctuary



    "Do you even know why you're doing this?"

    Desires grow from roots, rather than manifesting from thin air. Hal partially understands the importance of his role-play sessions with Rebecca, but he fails to make the direct connections to his outside life that she sees so clearly. This is partially what gives her the upper-hand in their sexual back-and-forth; her perspective is so much clearer. Rebecca undergoes her own transformation as she becomes increasingly vulnerable regarding the the sessions personal importance…

  • The Starling Girl

    The Starling Girl


    "We prayed on it."

    Religious guilt forces decision-making to happen in shadows, but The Starling Girl doesn't follow its protagonist far enough into the dark. Jem's desires are completely natural, though her fear of being deemed sinful is what prevents her from expressing them. Her faith is genuine and provides her with more anxiety than comfort. Owen introduces himself to Jem at a vulnerable moment with a casual secret of his own, signaling him as someone she can reveal her…

  • Sick of Myself

    Sick of Myself


    Crucial to Signe’s pity-driven fame is her particular balance of illness and desirability. Her conventionally attractive face remains clearly visible beneath the scarring, and she keeps her infected body hidden beneath stylish clothing. People with chronic illnesses and disabilities aren’t often given the level of attention that Signe is; more often, people are ignored because of these circumstances. Sick of Myself sharply observes that stories of health struggles can only pierce the bubble of pop culture when the person in…

  • Aliens



    What was once a fear of the unknown evolves into a thrilling return, yet surprises remain behind every corner. It’s so engaging to see Ripley and the new crew discover the full extent of the crisis they face while still having actual information to make decisions with. The fight against the aliens is tactical, often clever even in its desperation. The sophisticated nature of the xenomorphs makes more sense here as their hunting techniques demonstrate an even greater capability for…

  • R.M.N.



    Mere kernels of truth form the arguments in R.M.N.’s centerpiece: an extended meeting of the townspeople. It’s impossible for the more reasonable of the bunch to effectively argue against the angry mob when neither party fully believes in its talking points. Townspeople claim tolerance and seemingly legitimate concerns about a local employment crisis that simply aren’t the crux of their issue. The conversation swings in so many different directions as new grievances arise, because the true cause for concern is never…

  • The Exorcist

    The Exorcist


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Each of our main characters is plagued with their own restless spirit. It’s nearly inappropriate to compare the circumstances; Regan’s possession is so violently literal. It tears her body up and generates a pain she cannot free herself from. The psychological experience of having a demon inside you must be horrific, but Chris claims that Regan has no recollection of the incident after it leaves her (though she may not know the full truth). Regan’s suffering is the most extreme,…

  • Trouble in Paradise

    Trouble in Paradise


    Surprises at every turn make this thoroughly hilarious. Expectations are constantly subverted, not only for the audience but for the characters themselves. These personalities are bold and presumptuous, certain they can’t be outsmarted but excited at revelations of the contrary. The characters are hard to pin down as their decisions and reactions stay away from the more obvious courses of action. Jokes build on top of one another in a similar manner, as unexpected reactions get a laugh only for…

  • Other People's Children

    Other People's Children


    "Don't you see I'm getting attached?"

    Rachel knows that no relationship is guaranteed to last. After losing her mother so young, she has long since understood there are no permanent fixtures in life. This knowledge maturely affects how she behaves romantically, but the same approach can't be taken when it comes to her new boyfriend's daughter. To be in Leila's life is to care for her, to take full responsibility in the moments alone with her. Rachel's fondness for Leila…

  • Swarm



    Fishback’s lead performance is so effectively enigmatic that it makes the project as a whole fascinating, despite the other aspects that fail to make such an impact individually. Dre is so thoroughly hard to read without ever truly lacking expression — distant, not blank. Her emotional turns are sharply unnerving, and there is extremity to every outburst. She is rather scary at times, but it’s not in a way that lingers or harshly colors her later vulnerability. Fishback plays the…

  • Autumn Sonata

    Autumn Sonata


    "I would always be afraid that you would show up my stupidity."

    Much of why the conversations in Autumn Sonata are so emotionally charged is that its characters have never before been able to express themselves this clearly. We learn to speak as children, but it can be particularly difficult to articulate such complex emotions to one another. How do you accurately describe not one large pain but the amalgam of smaller aches that have built over years? How do…

  • Saw



    Adam and Lawrence are trying to escape for the entirety of Saw, even before we see their faces in the light. Their fear is instant upon regaining consciousness, but even with the threat of death clearly established, they hold strong for a long while before giving in to despair. The two men quickly form a bond out of necessity, working together to build plans for escape. It isn’t until Lawrence hears the horrific, misleading screams over the phone that he…