YEARS ago on a TV programme, Janet Leigh watched herself in the iconic shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Impressively, Leigh looked shocked and scared by a sequence she must have seen hundreds of times.
The scene, a true classic, lasts less than a minute but took seven days to film rather than the two or three days originally scheduled. Its impact still hits hard despite the subsequent slew of increasingly bloody horror-film sequences Psycho inspired.
According to 78/52’s director Alexandre O Philippe, the number of set-ups and edits in the scene have inspired this exploration of that intangible “cinematic space” between the shots.
Delving into Hitchcock’s genius, the scene is dissected — sometimes in overly pretentious film-school fashion — by a cavalcade of witnesses ranging from Jamie Lee Curtis, Guillermo del Toro, horror film director Eli Roth to the Gogglebox-style trio of Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah and Josh Walter.
And, for unintentional comedy, there’s Peter Bogdanovich at his most overbearingly pompous chipping in.
But even he can’t detract from what’s an engrossing exercise.
Thelma (15) Directed by Joachim Trier 4/5
THELMA opens with a man out hunting in the woods with his young daughter who, with an unsuspecting deer in his sights, slowly turns his shotgun from his prey to his little girl and — bang — this Norwegian drama immediately grabs the attention.
What unfolds is a teenage coming-of-age story with a supernatural twist, fuelled by religious repression, raging hormones and sexual awakening.
The ultra-shy Thelma (a compelling Eili Harboe) leaves her very devout and over-protective Christian family to go to university in Oslo, where she discovers love with fellow student Anja (Kaya Wilkins) and that triggers her long dormant supernatural powers.
Co-writer-director Joachim Trier’s foray into horror is rich, complex and mightily creepy, driven by a powerful female performance reminiscent of Cissy Spacek in Carrie. A real spine-chiller and even more so when you finally learn Thelma’s dark, secret past and why her father considered killing her. MD
The Silence of the Lambs (15) Directed by Jonathan Demme 5/5
AFTER watching Anthony Hopkins in Thor: Ragnorak hamming it up enough to qualify for a provincial pantomime, seeing him again as suave cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter makes his supremely well-deserved Oscar-winning performance even more impressive.
And this classic Academy Award-winning shocker still delivers suspense and cumulative chills.
Jodie Foster is extraordinary as the FBI trainee sent to interview imprisoned murderous psychiatrist Lecter and persuade him to help track down a sinister slayer who flays his female victims.
The plot’s riven by the riveting intellectual battle between Hopkins and Foster, who make the most of the deservedly Oscar-winning screenplay by Ted Tally.
Jonathan Demme also got a gong for an intelligent and truly terrifying horror film that’s still unique.
And should you actually feel hungry afterwards, best to ignore Lecter’s advice: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” Maybe an omelette and a decent Barolo’s a better option?
Predator (15) Directed by John McTiernan 5/5
THIRTY years after The Predator first assaulted cinemagoers, Jim Thomas and John Thomas’s screenplay still works perfectly for Arnold Schwarzenegger and director John McTiernan, the latter acclaimed for Die Hard and Last Action Hero.
In it, the US government hires Arnie — named “Dutch,” presumably to explain his accent — to lead a covert mission to rescue politicians trapped in darkest Guatemala.
The discovery of bloody, flayed corpses is the start of a mounting bullets-and fear-ridden nightmare for the rescuers that becomes even nastier when a monstrous creature with superhuman strength and the power of invisibility attacks them.
Action, not acting is the point which everyone on both sides of the camera understands, creating a scary-monster film which still thrills, aided and abetted by well-chosen
Mexican locations, on-the-money special effects and Schwarzenegger in picture-perfect superhero mode.
Arnie only made Governor of California unlike Ronald Reagan, who made President. But I’d still choose Arnie to save mankind from marauding monsters. AF
The Son of Bigfoot (PG) Directed by Jeremy Degruson and Ben Stassen 3/5
THIS sweet and entertaining tale of a teenage boy on a quest to find his long-lost father only to discover his parent is none other than Bigfoot has a lot going for it.
It may not be Pixar but this Belgian-French made animation is fun, colourful and features lovable characters and talking animals which little ones will adore.
Plus there’s an empathetic hero in Adam (Pappy Faulkner) who feels an outsider and is constantly being picked on by school bullies. But he develops skills and powers like his old man, which along with his long hair and big feet, are the highlight of this animated feature.