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THE BROOD

CFDC (available on Google Play)

In David Cronenberg’s engaging mix of custody drama and body horror, the narrative focuses on estranged couple Frank and Nola, Nola’s continuing therapy, and the murders happening around them. The formal elements are a mixed bag, with an uninteresting everyman protagonist, but intense supporting performances, and sharp, layered dialogue during scenes of psychotherapy. The gritty, close-up aesthetic to the violence is effectively nasty, but the horror suffers slightly from some choppy editing. Rife with imagery of psychosexual maldevelopment, nightmarish motherhood, and patriarchal rage, the themes and subtext ultimately elevate the piece past its flaws, and make it a fascinating analysis and watch. ****EL

Feature

HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)

William Castle Productions (available on Amazon Prime, Google Play)

Five guests are promised $10,000 should they stay the night in a haunted house. A classic black and white film from William Castle, the spectral encounters possess a charming sound-stage tactility. While their blatant artificiality may put off some, the sufficiently moody lighting and atmosphere leads to some creepy moments. The film doesn’t fully capitalize on all its narrative elements, dragging in the middle and bringing the weak interactions of the guest characters to light. The seething hatred between the host (Vincent Price) and his wife, however, proves more entertaining. With a great soundtrack, this is a cosy little watch. ***EL

GLOW

Netflix (available on Netflix)

Detailing the development of a female-only wrestling show, GLOW, starring Alison Brie, is an engaging and enjoyable series that entertains as well as highlights a number of progressive issues. The series, while simplistic in terms of narrative, successfully presents a number of unique, individual characters as they each embark on a wrestling career. Focusing on Ruth (Brie), a struggling actress, the series highlights the difficulties that women experienced (and still experience) in the world of showbusiness. ***SD

Feature

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD

AMC (available on Amazon Prime)

What’s worse than trying to survive a zombie apocalypse that has befallen the world? Trying to kick a heroin addiction at the same time, that’s what. As a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, I’d bypassed the similarly named Fear The Walking Dead, fearing that it’d be a tacky spin off.  Not so however. We see the nightmare as it first hits the world, as junkie Nick and his fractured family figure out, and fight off, the growing undead threat. A smarter show than its almost namesake – faster moving and possibly more satisfying overall. ****MH

TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN

Showtime (available on Now TV)

Twenty-five years after the release of the hit-and-miss Fire Walk With Me, Twin Peaks is back. The vast majority of the original cast have returned and more questions than ever have arisen as Cooper tries to make his way back to Twin Peaks from the Black Lodge. As ever, it has very challenging parts that no other show would ever dare do, and some may find this frustrating as it often lacks what made the original so charming. But Lynch wouldn’t be Lynch if he didn’t push boundaries and the raw elements of Twin Peaks are still very much there amidst its experimental beauty. ****LOB

Feature

GAME OF THRONES

HBO (available on Now TV)

Arguably the highlight of the television year, Game Of Thrones returns in stunning fashion. Alliances are forged and Westeros is invaded from the East and a more sinister invasion force from the North. After the traumas the Starks have gone through in the past six seasons, winter has come as some plot their revenge and others attend to more urgent matters. It’s as impressively done as ever, writing and depth that few other shows ever come near. It’s rare that a show captures people’s interests like this, and it looks like it’ll be going out with a bang loud enough to forgive Ed Sheeran’s cameo. ****LOB

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