Demanding Drama

~posted by Frank

It started off just like any other weekend. I left work on Friday afternoon with three DVDs that were waiting for me on the holds shelf, looking forward to some escapist entertainment. By the end of the weekend, I was in a state of despair, since these three movies were dark, difficult and downright diabolical. Watch at your own risk – you’ll be rewarded. Just a bit rattled.

Goodnight Mommy (Ich Seh, Ich Seh) will shock even the most hardcore horror fans. This German import stars twin brothers Elias and Lukas Schwarz, who live in a remote house with their mother (Susanne Wuest). The problem is, the twins aren’t convinced that the woman living in their house – covered in bandages after a mysterious accident, and abandoned by her husband and the boys’ father – is really their mother. I won’t spoil the rest of the movie, but the final act requires a strong stomach. If you’re a horror fan who was underwhelmed by last year’s indie horror darlings The Bababook and It Follows, then this queasy, tension-filled movie is not to be missed.

Nasty Baby is the latest piece of crazy cinema from Chilean director Sebastián Silva. Silva stars as Freddie, a performance artist who is trying to have a baby with his boyfriend Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) and best friend Polly (Kristin Wiig). Their avant-garde but comfortable lives in a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood are repeatedly threatened by a mentally unstable neighbor who calls himself The Bishop (Reg E. Cathey). Like Goodnight Mommy, the final act goes in an unpredictable – and unpleasant – place. This is an uncomfortable film where issues of race, gentrification, homosexuality, mental illness and poverty are front and center, but are not presented as problems in need of solutions – they are simply part of the fabric of a very messed-up world.

Queen of Earth stars Elisabeth Moss as Catherine, whose life is in a tailspin after being dumped by her boyfriend just after the death of her beloved father, an accomplished artist whose shadow she’s lived in. Seeking respite, she spends a week at the lake house of her best friend Virginia (Katherine Waterston), only to find that they are no longer the friends they once were. Moss delivers a tour de force performance as a woman who faces the prospect of losing her last human connection, and lashes out with vitriol, scorn and contempt as she descends into madness. She is simply remarkable.

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