Mashing genres has given us some of the best films ever made, but can be extremely fraught if done poorly. For every Blade Runner (science fiction/film noir), Assault on Precinct 13 (Western/thriller) or Scream (horror/comedy), there are countless clumsy and inconsistent messes that, in reaching for two disparate goals, achieve neither. Sunshine is by no means among the worst examples of this technique, but remains an intensely frustrating film. It seems to lack the courage to simply be a tense and thrilling tale of human perseverance and survival, instead tossing in a half-hearted, third act horror twist that falls completely flat.
Despite sounding like the subtitle of a gritty sequel to Minority Report, Prevenge is an old-fashioned tale of serial killing, with a twist; the killer is seven months pregnant, and spurred on by the ethereal voice of her unborn infant. Written by, starring and directed by the actually-considerably-pregnant Alice Lowe, the film plays with the classic homicidal revenge story by casting an ordinarily sympathetic kind of character as the killer, and by refraining from a standard of that kind of narrative: there is no clear inciting incident placed at the film’s beginning in order to get the audience onside for all of the rampant blood-letting. Rather the background information is filled in gradually, and then not made completely apparent, by means of ambiguous flashbacks and several narrators of questionable reliability. These choices of structure and characterisation combine to create a horror movie with a difference, one that challenges the viewers’ assumptions as much as it makes them laugh.
Silence, based on the novel of the same name by Shusaku Endo, is the latest of the meditations on religion and the nature of belief that Martin Scorsese likes to put out every decade or two. Two Jesuit priests, Andrew Garfield’s Sebastiao Rodrigues and Adam Driver’s Francisco Garupe, travel to isolationist Japan in search of their mentor, whom they fear has ‘gone native’, and committed the cardinal sin of apostasy. They find a conspicuously mixed welcome. While the simple country folk are overjoyed to have new padres to conduct their clandestine rites, the ruling class are carrying out a brutal suppression of Christianity, with alien priests fetching a particularly lucrative bounty. The film confronts the ethics of missionary work, especially in the face of state opposition, and the morality of personal integrity versus public suffering and, naturally, offers no easy answers.