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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Monarch Movie Minute: ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople,’ ‘White Girl’ and ‘The Monster’

Tyler Passarge
Staff Writer

Courtesy The Orchard.

Courtesy The Orchard.

‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ (2016) | PG-13 | 101 min. 🎬🎬🎬🎬

Constantly in and out of foster homes, Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) hasn’t been able to stay out of trouble long enough to find a home. Disappointment comes to Ricky when he is placed in the care of an older couple living in the New Zealand countryside. Taking on the roles of guardianship are “Aunt” Bella and her reclusive husband, Hic (Sam Neil).

Initially warming up to the new home, Ricky learns that child services is returning to take him away. This forces the child to fake his death and run away into the New Zealand forest. Not far behind is Hic, who decides to go on the run with Ricky. The two find themselves the subject of a nationwide manhunt by the police and the militant child services agent hell bent on finding Ricky.

In the words of Sam Neil’s Hic, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is nothing short of “Majestical.” Reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s filmmaking style, the film moves like a bizarre children’s story meant for adults. Writer/Director Taika Waititi’s script contains a frantic and high scaled spirit that is truly hard to shrug off. Much of the jokes land with precision and only add to the fantastic world Waititi has built.

Much of the dialogue in this sharp script is handled with passion and care by the film’s leads. Neil is able to handle his character’s gruffness in a way that still makes him accessible to the audience. Meanwhile, Dennison treats his character moments and comedic timing just about flawlessly.

Highly entertaining and almost never with a dull moment, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is a sweet-natured and crafty adventure.

This film is available on Hulu

Courtesy Bank Street Films.

Courtesy Bank Street Films.

‘White Girl’ (2016) | NR | 88 min. 🎬🎬🎬

When Leah (Morgan Saylor), a university student, moves into her new apartment with her best friend, she finds anyone willing to sell her drugs. This leads her to Blue (Brian Marc), a drug dealer she begins a sexually charged relationship with. The two discover through a night of drug dealing in the city that they can earn more by selling drugs to rich club hoppers. Despite warning from his friends, Blue decides to ask for a kilo of cocaine from his aggressive supplier.

Although things start to go well for the couple, things take a turn when Blue is arrested. This leaves the naïve and drug addled Leah with a kilo of drugs from a dangerous man expecting a profit. Instead of simply returning the drugs to Blue’s supplier, Leah decides to continue selling the drugs in order to raise money for a lawyer for Blue. This brings trouble to the drug addicted girl as she soon begins to lose control of the situation.

The raw and immersive style of “White Girl” is something of an acquired taste. Appearing deliberately uncomfortable and grimy, filmmaker Elizabeth Wood offers her audience an exploitative and bitter portrait of young twentysomethings using titillation to feed their addictions and base desires.

Admittedly, this movie is not for everyone. This is a film that is sexually charged, and in a way has an ugly perspective on humanity. However, that seems to be the effect that Wood is going for. She wants you to watch in disgust and with fascination at the characters and how they are wasting away their lives.

It’s hard to recommend, but “White Girl” feels like a deadly haze. It’s a stroll through the thick and fickle waters of hell.

This film is available on Netflix.

Courtesy A24

Courtesy A24

‘The Monster’ (2016) | R | 91 min. 🎬🎬🎬

In an unnecessarily placed opening narration, 10-year-old Lizzy (Ella Balentine) describes how monsters are always lurking in the darkness. This rings very true for the girl who struggles to live with her abusive, alcoholic mother, Kathy (Zoe Kazan). Their relationship has become so turbulent to the point where Lizzy decides to be placed into her father’s care permanently.

As Kathy is driving Lizzy to her father’s house, the mother and daughter get into a car accident, leaving them stranded on a deserted road in the middle of the night. Initially thinking that their accident was caused by an animal on the road, the two eventually learn that there might be a far worse predator hunting them. Kathy must now find the strength to survive the night and protect her daughter from the blood thirsty monster lurking in the darkness.

There’s much to appreciate about horror movies that look at life with a symbolic perspective. Films such as “It Follows” and “The Babadook” offer a horrific analyzation at everyday culture and social conventions. Looking at “The Monster,” it’s easy to see that the filmmaker is trying to treat addictions and fear as something more animalistic and brutal.

First and foremost, the scares in the film work. Always playing on the anxiety of the audience, “The Monster” is a horror film that delivers on a level of suspense. However, the script written by Bryan Bertino fails to really work its symbolic angle. Flashbacks are sprinkled throughout the film to show Kathy’s impotence as a mother, but anything involving the meaning of the titular monster is left hanging.

There are better movies of its kind, but “The Monster” is still an effective horror film that isn’t light on the thrills.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

Rating System:

🎬 — Straight to DVD.
🎬🎬 — Well, there goes 2 hours of my life!
🎬🎬🎬 — Add to my queue.
🎬🎬🎬🎬 — A must see.
🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬 — Mind blown!