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What's On Screen: Lots of horror amid the gem of Disobedience

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Upgrade not scarey, Hereditary, take your tranks. And get ready for the holiday flicks. Also, good TV which contains... scariness!
What's On Screen: Lots of horror amid the gem of Disobedience

Image: Upgrade

The Sydney Film Festival comes to a climax this weekend. Slowcoaches can assuage their disappointment by checking the program for additional screenings of favoured films.


New releases

Upgrade is the Leigh Whannell Goalpost and Blum production which is described as body horror and supposed to have scares and squidgy bits. It has a teeny bit of butchery violence and some running away and chasing, but is mostly just an interesting SF film which is stylishly made.


Some of it is pretty derivative but Whannell (who wrote Saw) would say it is homage and besides, exactly what the punters want. If you like high concept low wreckage SF it is pretty pleasant to watch, though Tarkovsky fans would recognise some ideas from Polish science fiction books in the 1950s. 

Good reviews, with fan approval and mainstream doubts. 

School holidays are looming again. You can still pick up Peter Rabbit and Duck Duck Goose and Sherlock Gnomes, but these will probably be stale fare for kids plugged into The Incredibles 2. It is made by someone called Brad Bird, who was already involved when Duck Duck Goose was commissioned, killing a million puns before they were even imagined. 


Tag is also out on wide release. 

For one month every year, five highly competitive friends hit the ground running in a no-holds-barred game of tag they've been playing since the first grade--risking their necks, their jobs and their relationships to take each other down with the battle cry "You're It!" 

Reviews are divided, but Isla Fisher is said to be very funny and she started her career here. 


Disobedience is a small contemporary thoughtful film on limited release. How did you guess? 

From Sebastián Lelio, the director of the Academy Award-winning A Fantastic Woman, the film follows a woman as she returns to the community that shunned her decades earlier for an attraction to a childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality. Written by Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz and based on Naomi Alderman's book, the film stars Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola.

Good reviews. Praise for ensemble performances is universal.



In the right venues you can see the World Cup on the big screen. Unlike 2010, it does not seem to be in 3D. So sad. 

SBS is also keen to remind you that you can the cup for free at home, on your couch, screaming in rage and despair to your heart's content. Did you know all the nutrients to support human life are in beer and cabbage?

Hereditary, the scarey film starring Toni Collette at the top of her form, did over a million dollars in its first weekend here, and has been doing just fine in the US. 

If you want a good shiver, run towards it. For $29.99 you can buy a two metre wriggly rubber tentacle which you drape over strangers' shoulders in the cinema and then switch it on with your phone. We won't tell you where and if you even Google it you are a bad person. Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian is never perturbed. 

Hereditary tripled my heart rate, prickle-massaged my scalp, cured my hiccups – and pretty much terrified me. It was the first time I’ve heard someone in an audience of hardened critics yelp the word “Fu-uck” in two separate syllables; the first in fear, the second in a kind of immediate, incredulous self-reproach for having lost it in public. That reaction was incidentally triggered – the only appropriate word – by a tongue-click, the sound a child might make to impersonate the clip-clopping of a horse, a once-innocent tic I will from now on associate with pure evil.


Tea With The Dames is a bit of a sleeper but is said to be hilarious. 

Kodachrome might be alright.

Loveless remains an act of genius. 


The Babadook (Netflix)  

Forget all about our Babadook being an accidental gay icon due to a Netflix archiving mistake, this 2014 film is one of Australia’s scariest and most stylish horror debuts in recent years. Directed by Jennifer Kent and starring Essie Davis as the besieged parent of a troublesome (monstrous?)child, this supernatural thriller has some really interesting things to say about motherhood, grief and moving on.

Sunshine (SBS On Demand) 

This Australian crime drama series debuted on SBS in October last year, but they’re still pushing the AACTA-winning drama hard. Anthony LaPaglia stars as the grumpy owner of a sports shop, and the reluctant coach to a Sudanese-Australian basketball team. Set and shot in Melbourne’s outer-western suburb of Sunshine, the four-part story follows a young aspiring player on the cusp of being picked up by US scouts when he’s caught up in a police investigation. An Essential Media production directed by Daina Reid and written by Matt Cameron and Elise McCredie.

Killing Eve (ABC iview)

This 8-part BBC America series isn’t Australian but it’s getting great reviews for its sly female take on the assassin spy thriller. Eve (Sandra Oh) is a bored, whip-smart, secret service operative whose desk-bound job doesn't fulfil her fantasies of being a spy. Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is an elegant and talented killer. A seductive cat-and-mouse game ensues. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag).  

About the author

Mostly David Tiley and Rochelle Siemienovicz, with contributions from friends, fans and Artshub staff. Between us, we flinch at nothing.