Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Rotoscoped Witchery, Lockdown Paranormalism, and M. R. James Goes Italian

October 11th, 2022 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.


Agatha (Film, US, Roland Becerra & Kelly Bigelow Becerra, 2022) Terminally ill watcher (Ryan Whiting) follows a witch (Emily Joyce-Dial) deep into an urban wasteland in search of a magical cure. Even at its tight 60-minute run time, this lushly rotoscoped urban fairy tale gobsmacks the viewer with details, images, and tonal discomfort, the latter accentuated by a superbly discordant score by Jeremy Santiago-Horsman. –KH

Something in the Dirt (Film, US, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, 2022) Neighbors John (Moorhead) and Levi (Benson) attempt to capture a paranormal event in Levi’s apartment as mysteries and pareidoliac connections compound. Your response to this film will depend entirely on your response to “what if paranormal Slacker, but a two-hander because filmed during lockdown, oh and also unreliable narrators and meta-documentary.” I bought the bit and enjoyed the ride mightily. –KH

Whistle, And I’ll Come to You (Film, Italy, Valentina Battorti, 2022) Skeptical professor Parkins (Giorgio Guerra) digs up a Templar whistle while vacationing in Burnstow. Gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Battorti (who also wrote and costume-designed) highlights this well-paced 68-minute M.R. James adaptation, and Matthew James’ score swells between 40s and 80s orchestrations. Italians playing MRJ’s uber-English characters does add a note of incongruity. –KH


The Keep (Film, US, Michael Mann, 1983) To the dismay of an SS-skeptical German officer (Jurgen Prochnow), stupid Nazis stir an ancient being from his Romanian fortress prison, summoning a counterforce in the form of a super-powered, exposition-eschewing, lidbidinous stranger (Scott Glenn.) Operatic weird fantasy shot at the height of high 80s style can’t be described as fully realized but nonetheless exerts a dreamlike pull.—RDL

Stoyan (Film, Spain, Roberto Ruiz Cespedes, 2022) When her son Stoyan (Max Ulloa) disappears, Maika (Marta Milans) follows the instructions of a heretical Buddhist sect to see him again. The B-plot of this karmic horror film, following existential police detective Israel (Tristán Ulloa) investigating linked deaths, works better and more consistently than the over-promised and under-explained main story, though it remains a meaty take on what exactly separation from emotional ties entails. –KH


The Greatest Beer Run Ever (Film, US, Peter Farrelly, 2022) Bibulous New York merchant marineman (Zac Efron) decides to bring comfort to his buddies serving in Vietnam with an unauthorized mission to show up there with a duffel bag of beers. Efron transforms radically out of his boyishness in a dramedy docudrama that could have used a rewrite pass for subtlety.—RDL

Incantation (Film, Taiwan, Kevin Ko, 2022) The horror starts up again after six years when a woman who profaned a profane scenario and learned too much about a god regains custody of her young daughter. Mixmasters horror sub-genres ranging from found footage to J-Horror, from Western exorcism flicks to 70s Asian black magic and throws them at the viewer for two hours, without the crucial moments of pause that make scares work.—RDL

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