Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Home girl, I’m from Brisbane too – I understand the desperate need of wanting to travel!

A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave.

Cate Shortland’s third feature film entry comes in the form of a heart pounding claustrophobic thriller Berlin Syndrome. Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Melanie Joosten, Shortland’s confident and interesting thriller is a slick atmospheric step into the genre.

Both Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt bring strong sharp performances, they play off one another well in an evil game out cat and mouse. There are moments of truly terrifying spine tingling tension and shocking moments of brutal bloody violence, it is everything you could ask for in a confinement thriller.

The Australian production is beautifully shot but it unfortunately loses its steam half way through, and instead of a slow burn its pacing begins to feel lethargic. Slightly overextended at 116 minutes long, a shorter in length version would have been a far superior film and kept the tension burning throughout.

7.5 / 10

“I wish I could stay”

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Lights Out (2016)

Admittedly I hate walking around the house at night turning off all the lights because I begin to spook myself that I will see someone standing there in the shadows… So, it is as if the filmmaker delved into my mind, saw my greatest secret fear and put it up on the big screen.

When her little brother, Martin, begins experiencing the same events that once tested her sanity, Rebecca works to unlock the truth behind the terror, which brings her face to face with an entity attached to her mother, Sophie.

Based on the acclaimed three minute short of the same name, David F Sandberg effectively expands his original short to a clever and dramatically interesting 80 minute feature film debut. It is clear Sandberg has talent for devising spooky situations, while effectively keeping the humour light. Lights Out immerses you into a very moody stylish world, that has a touch of J Horror swagger. The stylish sequences are aesthetically hair raising and exceedingly entertaining.

A perfect mix of family drama and horror. The performances are fright fuelled and unsettling. Both Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello are exceptional here, Palmer is the gorgeous strong alternative lead and Bello is the convincingly haggard and unbalanced mother. Following the trend of the 2014 hit The Babadook, Lights Out steps into similar territory by treating mental health as the real monster. Without going into too much detail, Diana is a creature of darkness, metaphorically and literally.

My only real issue with Lights Out is that there is quite a vagueness to the actual story, it never really explains what exactly Diana is. In saying so, I felt the monster didn’t abide by its own rules, ultimately leaving the lore a little messy.

Lights Out perfectly exploits our fears of the dark, with skilful chills and intelligent jump scares, Sandberg doesn’t disappoint and delivers an exceptional debut monster movie.

9.0 / 10

“Every time I turn off the lights… there’s this woman… waiting in the shadows”