DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Matt says Shazam! (review) is the word...

Shazam! (12a)

Dir. David F. Sandberg

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Hey, what's up? I'm a superhero…”

Before we get to the serious super-fallout of Marvel’s Avengers Endgame, the DC Extended Universe bursts onto the scene with Shazam – a light-hearted romp which is a change of tone from the darker and moody recent efforts.

Director David ‘Lights Out' Sandberg channels a lot of the fun that you remember comic books inspiring when you’re a kid, Shazam! packs a serious amount of wish fulfilment and sheer wonder too.

Meet young Billy Batson (Asher Angel), your standard hard-luck orphan who has a Hunt For The Wilderpeople penchant for running away from the foster homes where he has been placed since he lost his mother at a fair as a child. As fate would have it he Billy gets chosen by ancient wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) to become mankind’s champion and he is given a range of superpowers with which to defend the world.

So, when Billy says the word ‘Shazam!’ he transforms into the super-buff Zachary Levi and has a ball with his newest foster brother Freddie Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) chronicling his abilities. Freddie is handily a swot on superheroes and has his own stash of memorabilia including an ‘actual’ Batarang and ‘authentic’ bullet which bounced off Superman – which lays nice groundwork for connecting this film to the wider DC universe.

phone charge man...

While this all feels a bit like a super version of Tom Hanks' Big – there is, of course, a baddie to up the ante. Villain of the piece is the bitter Thaddeus Sivana (Mark ‘Kingsman’ Strong) who was once tested by the wizard to inherit his powers but found to be a wrongun, so he instead opted to let himself be possessed by the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ – demonic-like creatures who want to kill us all.

The action is handled well, it’s shot through with human emotions and related complications but it’s also really funny too. The humour really works and there are lots of grin-inducing moments, none more so than a cameo at the end which is just superb.


All the cast seem to be having a good time, special mention to the young Faithe Herman (future star alert) who plays younger foster sister Darla Dudley and steals every scene she’s in.

Shazam! is a marvel (excuse the mixed comic book analogies) – a feel-good, fun and exciting new entry into the super world which deserves to be seen! For a super time simply say ‘Shazam!’ when ordering cinema tickets!!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - Super fun which deserves much love!)

Awesomeness öööö – Action and fun in equal measure!

Laughs öööö – Really funny in places

Horror ö – Not too nasty

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Magic can save you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Matt Visits: Huntington Gardens (a post Brexit review)

Huntington Gardens (PG)

Dirs. Paul and Simon Wade

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“You must have done this - to throw us off the scent...”

Into the heady mix of political and social breakdown that is Brexit comes a new short comedy film about a residential street in post-Brexit Britain, where the neighbours battle it out for the best parking spot.

Huntington Gardens brings the lives and parking dramas of three families, living on the same suburban street to the fore as each day they wage war over who gets the best parking spaces.

At the end of each workday, the Morris family, the Rogers and the Amins’ all drive back as quickly as they can to beat the others to the best spots on the street. Each family is from different economic, cultural and political backgrounds and their hidden prejudices bubble to the surface as the battle for parking spaces intensifies.

'curtain twitchin neighbours'

Who are these people? Well there’s the Morris family (remainers in the Brexit vote -predominantly directed by the articles read in the Guardian) Mrs Morris (Kelly Adams) is a stressed suburbanite.

Then there are Mr and Mrs Rogers played by Paul Putner and Kacey Ainsworth – a couple who have lived on 'Huntington Gardens' all of their lives, have seen people come and go and have seen it change a lot over the years, (leave voters in the Brexit vote due to reading an article on Facebook about EU regulations having a negative impact on the UK fishing industry and definitely not because of immigration…)

Also caught up in the parking madness is Mr Amin (Amerit Deu) – he didn’t vote in Brexit, as he was too busy with work; he thinks both sides are stupid. The Amin family moved into ‘Huntington Gardens’ five years ago and ever since they have been met with suspicion from the rest of the road. Their dislike of Mr Amin just reinforces his dislike of them and his stubbornness to get the best parking space, by whatever means. He’s not a person who likes small talk or general pleasantries, being quite direct and to the point.

'Game faces'

The talented Directors – the Wade Brothers - said: “We wanted to capture the mixture of confusion, misplaced anger, frustration and mistrust of other people and create a film with all of those ideas and placed them on an average British, residential street, a street which hoses a mix of ethnicities, political beliefs and economic backgrounds. The battle for power, superiority and parking spaces amongst three families acting as a metaphor for post-Brexit Britain. “

Huntington Gardens is a clever and wonderfully shot laugh-out-loud piece of fun cinematic joy. It packs an engaging short story with a hard-hitting undercurrent of political comment. Inspired in no little part by the films of Shane Meadows stylistically, with references to other films such as Clockwise and the feel of many quality suburban dramas – the filmmakers manage to mix social realism with fully realised characters, believable environments, locations and highly charged emotions.

'Alls fair in love and parking?'

Highly recommended viewing however you voted!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4.5 - Superbly fun entertainment that packs a serious issue punch...)

Read Matt's review of a previous Wade Brothers film: A Private Man

Matt is one of 'US'... Review

Us (15)

Dir. Jordan Peele

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“They look exactly like us. They think like us. They know where we are...”

How do you fight an enemy that understands you, can anticipate your every move and will not stop until it has destroyed you? That’s the eerie premise of Us.

In 1986 a young girl, Adelaide (Madison Curry), has a traumatic experience in a sinister hall of mirrors when she wanders away from her parents at an amusement park in Santa Cruz. Just what happened to her isn’t revealed until the climax but whatever it was set off a terrifying chain of events that could jeopardise everyone’s future.

'Beach time'

Now in the present, Adelaide (adult version - Lupita Nyong’o) has a family of her own and they revisit the very same beach even though she has misgivings about it. Her husband, Gabe (Winston Duke) has arranged to meet up with his awful friends the Tylers, a white family who are all about one-upmanship and chilling – summed up by the mum Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) who needs her rosé wine ‘medicine’ even at the beach.

That night a look-alike family dressed in red jumpsuits turn up and start to terrorise Adelaide, Gabe and their children, teenage daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Nelson) and younger son Jason (Evan Alex). It seems that each member of the family has their own evil clone who has come seeking unspecified vengeance.


Director Jordan ‘Get Out’ Peele has a lot of fun adapting the home invasion horror tropes. He packs in a ton of cultural reference points, film nods, easter eggs and some dark comedy laugh-out-loud moments which help break up the sustained graphic violence and almost unbearable tension.

Us amps up an effective eerie atmosphere and doesn’t skimp on the shocks – the guy next to me in the cinema was screaming throughout!? Nyong’o – who was great in Black Panther - is the beating heart of the film. Her nice / nasty dual role is an exceptional master-class which deliciously provokes both empathy and fear in equal measure.

'A kid with issues'

The soundtrack is excellent too, one stand-out scene sees the mayhem play out to a combo of Beach Boys and N.W.A. The younger members of the cast get to deliver some scene-stealing violent encounters both as their normal and evil selves.

As the nightmare plot twists and turns it brings some breath-taking originality which packs in a multitude of creative ideas and the subtle social commentary too. There are parallels with biblical tales of opposed people being released and taking what is rightfully theirs as well as a modern-day cry for justice that seems out of reach for so many poor / underclass people.

'Fight for your family'

This is a horror film for sure but one that will make you think long and hard - Us is family holiday thrill-ride worth taking for more than just horror fans.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - A powerhouse of a nightmare...)

Awesomeness öööö – Audacious, nerve-shredding scenes

Laughs ööö – Really funny in places

Horror öööö – Very grim and sustained threat

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - How well do you know your family?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Matt dives Under the Silver Lake

Under the Silver Lake (15)

Dir. David Robert Mitchell

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Our world is filled with codes, subliminal messages. From Silverlake to the Hollywood Hills...”

In select cinemas and available to stream Under the Silver Lake is a heady slice of Californication from the mind of Director David ‘It Follows’ Robert Mitchel. What we have is a feverish neo-noir mystery featuring aimless slacker Sam (Andrew Garfield) that riffs on paranoia, secret code-cracking, sleuth films such as Brick, Mulholland Dr. and Inherent Vice.

"risky business'

The plot sees Sam caught up in the weird and unsettling aftermath of the unexplained disappearance of his beautiful neighbour Sarah (Riley ‘Logan Lucky’ Keough). Being a good sort, or maybe just because he’s more than a little smitten with her, he embarks on a quest across the city to uncover what has happened to her. What follows is a delirious mystery-em-up that delves into the murkiest depths of scandal and conspiracy in the Hollywood Hills.

Not short on homage – there are conspicuous nods to Hitchcock, Lynch, Carpenter, and Paul Thomas Anderson scattered throughout this screwball tale and yet Under the Silver Lake is something unique and fascinating in its own right. There is a definite slightly unhinged feel to proceedings – with a deranged dog killer stalking the neighbourhood, an enigmatic high-roller who dresses as a pirate and a conspiracy theory nut who writes short ‘zines’ about a deadly naked female murderer known as the ‘Owl’s Kiss’.

Riley Keough revisits classic Marilyn pose...

The original!?

Things get weirder as the film progresses with Sam meeting the "Homeless King" (David Yow) who takes him to an underground bunker beneath the Silver Lake and through whom he finds the enigmatic Songwriter (Jeremy Bobb), who has been secretly controlling popular culture through subliminal messages hidden in the hit songs he has written for Nirvana, Backstreet Boys and more…

As the mystery deepens – there are some freakish twists and turns plus some grisly violence. There is also a ton of nudity throughout, it seems barely any of the female characters get through the movie without appearing topless or in a skimpy swimsuit which makes it somewhat of a blatant male fantasy piece.

"Hitchcock who?"

What makes the film sparkle though are some genius moments such as a fantastic ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ reference which sees Garfield sending up his former role. There are probably a lot of hidden messages in the film too which would require repeat watching to unpack.

Overall Under the Silver Lake is an oddball romp worth investigating as a future cult classic.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(3.5 - Arty, crazy and slightly brilliant mystery...)

Awesomeness ööö – Slacker fun throughout and great film refs

Laughs ööö – Darkly funny

Horror öööö –Several nasty scenes

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Some mysteries should be left alone?

Monday, March 11, 2019

Matt Reviews Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (12a)

Dir. Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I'm not gonna fight your war. I'm gonna end it.”

When even the mightiest Avengers are beaten and in need of a saviour – who you gonna call? Well anyone who’s seen Infinity War will know that Nick Fury sent out a cosmic pager SOS message at the end and in order for us to know just how powerful a helper he is calling, here we have the origin story of our potential redeemer: Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel – also known as Carol Denvers (Brie Larson) belongs to a literally blue-blooded hero warrior race called the ‘Kree’. But it’s possible that she’s much more human than anyone realises. Her superior / mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) has been training her to get control of the pure photo energy that seems to course through her and which she can shoot bolts of out of her hands.

"Nine Inch Nails fan!"

When shape-shifting Skrull aliens invade 1990s earth to try and trace a scientist working on a light-speed engine — Captain Marvel also arrives to try and stop them. Crash landing through the roof of a Blockbuster Video she certainly makes an entrance, attracting the attention of a cleverly de-aged Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Cue lots of chasing, fighting and movie references such as Top Gun (there’s a cool cat called ‘Goose’) and some lovely aerial combat. Directors / co-writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck play the Marvel rulebook blow-by-blow in establishing the Cap’s back story and explaining her incredible powers. But there is real heart here and a brilliant ‘90s soundtrack helps everything tick along nicely to the sounds of Garbage, Elastica and Nirvana to name but a few.

"cool cast"

Ben Mendelsohn brings good support as Skrull leader Talos, Annette Bening is great as the Kree Supreme Intelligence and there are also good turns from Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau – Denvers’ best friend and her daughter Monica (Akira Akbar) who is nicknamed ‘Lt Trouble’.

The climax is suitably thrilling as Captain Marvell gets to finally unleash her incredible powers and many semi-loose threads from the MCU are tied up such as where the tesseract was between Captain America and Avengers movies.

"She wants a word with Thanos"

This is a key part of the Avengers timeline and needs to be seen by all comic book movie fans. Do stick around for the mid and post end credit scenes which are direct links to next month’s End Game.

BTW has anyone seen my Flerken cat anywhere? There’s a new Captain in town and she’s simply Marvellous!

"Goose - this bogeys all over me..."

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - Flerken fantastic...)

Awesomeness öööö – Captain in battle is wonderful to behold

Laughs ööö – Gets in some good funnies

Horror öö –Not too grim

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Fight for what's right

Monday, March 04, 2019

Matt falls into The Hole In The Ground

The Hole In The Ground (15)

Dir. Lee Cronin

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“He’s not your son...”

Parenting can be tough at the best of times, so why would anyone be freaked out if your child overnight suddenly became more helpful, polite and loving? Arriving for meals on time, tidying up without being asked and bringing you little gifts… It sounds a bit too good to be true, and in The Hole In The Ground – it is…

Trying to escape her abusive past, single mum Sarah O'Neill (an excellent turn by Seána Kerslake) is aiming to build a new life on the fringes of a backwoods rural town with her young son Chris. The little family face the usual struggle to settle in with school kids being mean and the locals keep to themselves, but things take a turn for the worse when Sarah has a terrifying encounter with a mysterious neighbour. Also, it seems Chris is a bit too fascinated by the huge ominous sinkhole in the forest that borders their home and falling in might be the least of their worries.

"meeting the neighbours"

What follows is an effectively freaky slow burn horror that feels a lot like last year’s excellent Hereditary in its growing sense of menace. As Sarah’s existence spirals into a waking nightmare of paranoia and mistrust of her son – it feels like time is running out for her to try and uncover if the disturbing changes in her little boy are connected to the strange hole.

James Quinn Markey is excellent as Chris, bringing a bright-eyed, Danny Torrence meets Cole Sear from The Sixth Sense steely-yet-vulnerable presence to the role. Has he simply turned over a new leaf to be a more ideal son, or is there a much more sinister explanation to his behaviour? His performance is spot on to keep you guessing.

"if he's not your son - what is he?"

Director Cronin has a brilliant eye for camera angles, cinematic landscapes and dread-inducing scenes. Whilst produced on a small budget, this is a potential flagship for Irish films. The effective and sparsely used score is excellently used too as before long viewers actually start to feel the loneliness and isolation of the mother in her unlikely dilemma.

The creepy atmosphere ratchets up to a climax that feels part The Descent and part Blair Witch – which for horror fans is no bad thing. Overall The Hole In The Ground deserves to be checked out by anyone looking for a thoughtful chiller – especially parents!!

"parenting can be rough"

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - Freaksome creepy effective horror...)

Awesomeness ööö – Nail biting compulsory

Laughs ö – Not much funny business

Horror öööö –Very good dread build up

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - A mothers instinct is strong

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Matt feels the heat of the Burning Men

Burning Men (15)

Dir. Jeremy Wooding

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I can see them, all around us...”

Here’s something new and cool. Indie Brit flick Burning Men comes on like a buddy drama and then brings a fun mix a rock ‘n’ roll road movie, unnerving horror-lite and adds some quirky comedy for good measure…

Horror flicks are often great ways for those with cinematic aspirations to cut their teeth and Burning Men unleashes winning youthful energy onto the screen, shot through with a touch of the macabre. The plot sees two pals Ray (Edward Hayter) and Don (Aki Omoshaybi) trying to get their band going but struggling due to limited finances and lack of inspiration.
Their dream is kick-started when Ray literally finds his girlfriend sleeping with their bassist as they are being evicted from their shared flats. With nothing now tying them to London, they decide to cash in their extensive vinyl collection and go to the USA in order to win over the psycho-billy crowd out there.

"watched over by angels?"

Things don’t quite work out as planned though thanks to the market value of their second-hand records not being enough to buy em flights to Luton, let alone the US. But Ray is a resourceful guy and grabs a chance to make some serious cash but stealing a rare ‘black metal’ acetate said to be worth five grand – but also packing a demon summoning curse – and so the scene is set for a supernaturally infused road movie with a difference.

The two pals embark on an odyssey from London to Newcastle via Norfolk and the Northumbria moors - and by the end are driven by dark forces to the holy island of Lindisfarne. I won’t say any more about the plot except that it includes burning scarecrows, violent Scandinavian death metal thugs, drugs – lots of drugs, and a possible new romance along the way.

"Girl power"

Shot mostly in ‘Peep Show-esque’ Point-of-View (POV) which makes the young cast earn their keep. Director Jeremy Wooding (who directed Peep Show episodes) describes the movie as:

“An original mix of road movie, buddy movie and psychological thriller. It charts a troubled young man’s journey, Ray’s journey, towards recognising his gift of second sight. It is also a story of relationship dilemmas as Ray finds himself torn between his best friend Don, and
fellow traveller Susie. It’s both a fun and often unsettling adventure, full of colourful characters and packed with great music.”

Hitchhiker Susie (Elinor Crawley) adds both a sense of light relief and a little mystery after she decides to stick with the pals after her friend Gemma (Katie Collins) splits – after bedding both the boys. The relationship between this core three is the glue that carries the film as the writing is a bit basic and unengaging at times. Hayter and Omoshaybi are on good form though and imbibe their characters with enough likeability to make you care what happens to them.

"a burning man"

Themes of mental health, family breakdown and erm, Aryan supremacy are all worked in and whilst the horror premise never really delivers anything very scary it all ticks along in an enjoyable blur. Burning Men feels like it homages many other films such as Green Room (evil rock racists), Puritan (unsettling dark magic references) and The Borderlands / Final Prayer (increasing sense of being manipulated by darkness) but in the end, manages to stand as something new in its own right.

One highlight of the film is Justin Adams’ musical score which gives a good range of shifting vibes and there is a great soundtrack curated By Burning Men Pictures in association With Red Menace Records that features a heady mix of artists. Another unexpected highlight is the wicked cool Volvo Amazon that evokes the Trabant car used on stage/album cover of U2's Achtung Baby.

Burning Men might not quite hit the full cult classic status but it is a decent Brit effort which is worth a look. There are a number of places to catch it on the big screen this month with the bonus of having a Q & A session thrown in.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(3 - An addictively freaky road trip)

Burning Men is hit cinemas on 1st March, with a regional tour across the country. For more information, please head to: BurningMenTour