Knock on the Cabin has all the markings of a genre almost exclusively monopolised by Netflix in recent years. A familiar cast – check. A limited set – check. A taut, claustrophobic thriller with an easy elevator pitch to sell it to friends and family for word of mouth success – check. It is, in that sense, an old school streamer. Vintage titles kick things off and a neat bow closes the circle. Add to the fold a headliner as director and what’s not to like?
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Twelve years have flown since DreamWorks’ Puss in Boots last swashbuckled his way across the multiplex. Sixty-five by cat count. So long a break has killed many a franchise past – whatever happened to TinTin? – but what a difference the hiatus has spawned here. In animation alone, The Last Wish attains frankly astonishing visual superiority. To this a Spider-Versal debt is owed. Then there’s the narrative, which is pitched somewhere between the last of Disney’s Pirates series and, of all things, Wolverine swan song Logan. It’s surprisingly, impressively, mature material for a modern day fairytale.
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Horror has rarely enjoyed so honeyed an aesthetic as in Jon Wright’s folk frightmare Unwelcome. Shot in an marketably lush Ireland, the film resembles a unusually morbid advert for Kerrygold, with increasing recourse to seventies pastiche. It’s a cliché ridden affair and somewhat meandering, particularly in the middle. That is, it’s banal until the whole thing goes Fraggle Rock in its frankly bizarre final third. Wright pitched the film as Gremlins meets Straw Dogs. In executing so potent a vision, the Robot Overlords director does a thoroughly good job in establishing why Straw Dogs was all the more effective without the addition of Gremlins.
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