Blair Witch

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I remember the day that I saw The Blair Witch Project in the theater very well. Mostly because it was part of a double feature. The other movie I saw that day was American Pie. I was 14-years-old and my sister’s boyfriend had to purchase my tickets because both were R-rated features.

I learned a lot that day. It was my own coming of age tale right there at the cineplex. I saw BWP first and then went for American Pie as a palate cleanser. Looking back, I wish I’d done it in reverse. As a freshman in high school, American Pie was much more frightening to my unsullied brain than The Blair Witch Project was. I was like, “that’s what I’m in for? I’m goin’ to the woods instead.”

Blair Witch is being called the sequel to BWP. Only… there was a sequel already. Are we just acting like that never happened? Got it.

When James Donahue (James McCune) finds a video that he believes to be footage of his sister Heather who disappeared 17 years earlier, he gathers friends to venture into the Black Hills Forest with him in hopes of finding her. James has very good friends. He must’ve helped all of them move at one point or something because unless I owe you big time, you’re goin’ into those haunted ass woods by your damn self.

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Tagging along are his friends Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Ashley (Corbin Reid), and Peter (Brandon Scott). Lisa’s going to film the whole thing documentary style. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from movies, it is that if you are going to go somewhere and film it, you’re probably also going to die or find yourself in a precarious situation that nobody wants to be in.

To keep us current, the friends have also brought along a drone for some sweet aerial shots. This can only mean good things.

The group meet up with Talia (Valorie Curry) and Lane (Wes Robinson) — the couple who uploaded the footage that started everything from a video tape they found — who then decide to join them.

Countless. That is the number I’ve come up with for how many times I would’ve peace’d tf out. Obviously there are going to be bizarre things happening. Like, they don’t just go into the woods, find his sister, and then go have a pint at the Black Hills Forest Pub. It’s the severity of the weirdness, though, that varies and sort of makes you go, “Wait, was that crazy? Or was that just crazy because we’re all really freaked out and on edge?”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love horror movies that take a handful of characters and put them in an isolated location. It’s a formula that has been proven to work time and time again. No matter what the circumstances, there’s always a point where everyone starts to suspect everybody else of being behind the creepy goings on. Who can you trust? Anyone? No one? We’re all dead? Cool!

So they set up camp and have super eerie campfire conversations, like you do, on the first night out. After oversleeping until 2p, they pop their little heads out of their tents to find the infamous Blair Witch stick figures all over camp. For once, a logical decision is made when the group decide to call it a day and GTFO. After traipsing through the trees for hours on end, they find themselves right back at camp. They even use GPS and the drone to try to nail down their location.

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That right there is why this movie is so excellent; people are making good choices. They’ve gotten themselves into a pickle and are trying to right things again, but not even Tom Cruise in All the Right Moves could help them now.

This movie is nightmare fuel. It doesn’t give much, but that is way more effective than going the other way. It’s a slow burn that gradually becomes an inferno. What makes the Blair Witch itself so terrifying as that it’s left completely to the imagination. We have very little notion of the size, shape, or physical appearance. So our minds are free to run wild with ideas; each more panic-inducing than the last.

Also, I was delighted to find that this movie is really frickin’ funny! That, I was not expecting. I love a good thriller with a sense of humor. Blair Witch gets the job done without diminishing the feeling of imminent terror pukes.

Nobody dies in this movie.

Just kidding. People totally die. Or vanish. Or … get beamed up. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. What I do know is that Adam Wingard knows how to make a scary ass movie. Directing one of my favorite films of the last decade, You’re Next, Wingard is also responsible for segments in two other greats, V/H/S and V/H/S 2.

To put a bow on things, Wingard teamed up with music producer Robert Rich to create a perfectly macabre blanket of sound to complete the hell-on-screen world of the Black Hills Forest.

If you enjoyed the first one, I’d wager a guess that you’ll love this one. This movie has Wingard all over it. It’s supremely creepy, disarmingly witty, and really brings the A game jump scares. If you really want that genuine we’re-all-gonna-die feel, see this one in the theater for sure.

 

Hell or High Water

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As someone who used to work in a bank, my worst fear was that one of my wealthier customers would come in and drone on about their recent holiday in The Maldives and then tell me, “You can visit one day, too, if you put your mind to it!”

My second worst fear was being robbed. I worked in an affluent neighborhood, so in the early morning hours I mostly ran into rich people who had nothing better to do than be awake, drinking coffee and walking their cobblestone streets.

Hell or High Water starts with a bang when brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) nab bank teller Elsie (Dale Dickey) as she’s slipping the key into the lock. Forcing her inside the bank, she gives them lip service that I certainly wouldn’t be able to muster, but then again, they are in Texas.

Come to find out that Toby and Tanner are on a bit of a bank robbing bender. In some cases, the rush appears to outweigh the necessity for Tanner, but Toby is far more level-headed. Partly because that’s just his demeanor; partly because he has to be for his boys. Tanner and Toby are polar opposites in a lot of ways. Tanner has a mean streak; his crass carelessness often inviting trouble. Toby feels a sense of responsibility to do right by his family, making him far more concerned with doing the right thing. That idea often disagrees with whatever Tanner’s got going on.

The end game here is saving the family’s ranch in West Texas, but at what cost? Causing a commotion in The Lone Star State is a good way to get everyone in the vicinity to draw their guns, and trigger happy Tanner has no problem following suit. When the news of the robberies reach the local jurisdiction, the hunt is on and two of the best rangers in TX are hot on the trail.

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If I’m ever on the run from the law, I don’t want Jeff Bridges donning the badge behind me. Bridges plays Hamilton. He’s the version of Rooster Cogburn who stays on the right side of the law and doesn’t drink nearly as much. Nearing retirement, Hamilton and his partner, Parker (Gil Birmingham), track the bandit brothers all over Texas, looking at patterns and estimating where they might make a mistake.

For me, this movie felt like a less engaging version of No Country For Old Men. Jeff Bridges, of course, slightly reminiscent of Tommy Lee Jones’ sheriff character; Toby and Tanner representing a far less menacing, fluffier version of Anton Chigurh.

I always enjoy Jeff Bridges. The movie gives good character development with both Hamilton and Parker and Toby and Tanner. Hamilton is endlessly razzing Parker for being a “half-breed” and throwing cleverly crafted, racially charged jabs his way. Parker, in turn, takes the high road, recognizing that his partner is a bit long in the tooth, almost retired, and that he, to quote Matt Hooper in Jaws, “Won’t have to take this abuse much longer.”

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Hell or High Water is OK. I didn’t love it, I didn’t notice anything exceptional about it, and I definitely didn’t think it was as funny as everyone else deems it. I did enjoy the score quite a bit. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis do a nice job of combining soft piano with that sort of spine-tingling string thing that nearly the entire OST to There Will Be Blood is made of. The cinematography knocked it out of the park, too. Great, big wide shots and wonderful use of the landscape.

Overall, it’s fine. It’s got a bit of charm and wit, and it’s got Chris Pine’s giant dome — seriously, where did the costumes department find a ski mask that would fit over that thing — but I guess I was just expecting something… more. It’s like an itch I can’t quite scratch. I’m not gonna tell you not to see it. You’re a grown ass adult and you can do whatever you want. If I were you, though, I’d wait for Netflix.

Don’t Breathe

Jane Levy stars in Screen Gems' horror-thriller DON'T BREATHE.

Fear and desperation are a lethal cocktail of emotion; fear being the bleach to desperation’s ammonia. Some cases are not as toxic as others, but when the light at the end of the tunnel begins to go dim, our baser instincts kick into overdrive. Whether you’re melting Cheez Whiz on stale saltines because you don’t have the means to make actual nachos and Walking Dead is on in two minutes so you don’t have time to go to the store, or stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family, we do what it takes to survive.

Living in a dilapidated neighborhood in Detroit, Rocky (Jane Levy), her boo-thang, Money (Daniel Zovatto), and their third wheel friend, Alex (Dylan Minnette) spend their free time breaking into nicer homes in better areas and stealing valuables to pawn on the street. Rocky is the only breadwinner in her household and takes care of her little sister, Diddy (Emma Bercovici), while her mom and her mom’s charming beau slum about on the sofa.

When Money gets wind of a man in town sitting on a small fortune, the gang decide that they’ll have this one last hurrah and then take off for sunny California. After scoping out the joint, they learn that the owner of the home is blind.

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Upon making this discovery, Money turns into Al Jolson in Bombo and decides that they’re doing it that night. Naturally, the house is locked up like Fort Knox. Money is full of brilliant, sage wisdom, but his observation on why there are, like, 16 locks on the door — because all of the money is inside, duh — is maybe his finest revelation.

After a successful entry, the three search for the stash only to find that they’ve stumbled into some Cave of Wonders shit. They’ve disturbed The Blind Man’s (Stephen Lang) slumber and will pay dearly. Though he is blind, his advantage is that all of his other senses have been expertly sharpened. His on-screen time is spent mostly sniffing, listening, and punching.

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I’d tell you more about the movie, but that wouldn’t be right. There are so many buttery little nooks and crannies in this English Muffin that it needs to be savored firsthand.

That said, there are many great things that I CAN tell you. I had ample mixed emotions throughout and it just kept turning the tables. It is reminiscent — at least to this critic — of the 1986 thriller Crawlspace starring Klaus Kinski. Similar in the way that it’s this super creepy, almost super human dude chasing these kids through his house and showing up in places impossibly quickly based on where he was in the last scene, always to the delight of the crowd.

It’s got remnants of the vintage element of surprise that makes older horror movies so much better than the rubbish we mostly get these days. I read a review before I saw the film that said it’s non-stop and I thought to myself, “This shit better not stop.” and it really doesn’t! It’s a monster truck rally and The Blind Man is Truckasaurus.

There’s very little setup before we get to the meat and potatoes, so-to-speak. The character development isn’t the strongest I’ve seen, but they do a fine job in the time allotted, and it needs to be said that Stephen Lang — who doesn’t have a ton of lines — sounds like a 50/50 mix of Dieter Laser — Dr. Heiter in Human Centipede — and Christopher Walken. It’s. Amazing.

Bottom line, this movie is a fat lot of jump scares, but it is a dang fun theater experience. This was a “fingers in ears” thrill ride and I absolutely recommend catching it on the big screen. And just keep in mind that if you ever see a blind, ripped dude, you turn and run as fast as you can forever.

 

What We Do in the Shadows

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I wish I could invent a time machine to go back to 2014 so that I could be with What We Do in the Shadows for a little bit longer. The life span of a great romance is never long enough. My love affair with Shadows comes two years late, but I think I’ve made the most of it by watching it so many times that — much like a vampire — it has gained immortality in my mind. And my heart. Unless either of those things is set on fire.  Or impaled on a stake.

Whenever you’ve got roommates cohabitating — or in a flatting situation, as the Kiwis say — there can be turmoil. Whether it’s because somebody got blood all over the sofa in the lounge or someone else hasn’t done the bloody dishes in 5 years, things can get a bit tense.

What most people don’t realize is that vampires deal with the trials and tribulations of the average day to day — or night to night — as it were, too. A documentary crew was lucky enough to be privy to the goings-on in this house in Wellington, New Zealand. They captured the events leading up to the annual Unholy Masquerade; a veritable who’s who in the undead community.

What they found… was pretty mundane.

Viago (Waititi) — aged 379 years — traveled from Germany to New Zealand to be with the woman he fell in love with. Only, his servant, Phillip (Frank Habicht), badly botched the job — placing the wrong postage on Viago’s coffin — and it took roughly 18 months for him to get there. He was too late.

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The youngest of the group, Deacon (Jonny Brugh) — aged only 183  years — is the rebellious one. He’s the James Dean of the crew. Always more concerned with looking cool than doing his part around the flat. What else would you expect from a former Nazi Vampire?

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8,000 years young, Petyr (Ben Fransham) is the oldest of the flatmates. He’s got the Nosferatu game on lock and mostly keeps to himself in his basement tomb. He’s basically me with bigger fangs and no hair.

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And then there’s Vlad (Clement) — aged 862 years. Once known as Vladislav The Poker for torturing victims by poking them with implements, he dedicates most of his time to orgies and going out to have a good time. When he’s not doing unsavory things, he spends what is probably an unhealthy amount of energy feeding the hatred he has for his nemesis, The Beast.

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The worst thing about being a vampire is that you have to drink human blood to survive. Fortunately, Deacon has a familiar named Jackie (Jackie Van Beek) to do his bidding which includes dishes, yard work, and tracking down potential victims in exchange for eternal life. On the quest for victims and a good time, the foursome meet Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer).

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Nick’s eyes were bleeding heaps, but he’s come out on the other side and is now a full fledged vampire. He brings his best mate, Stu (Stu Rutherford) around and is surely only allowed to hang out because Viago, Deacon, and Vlad like Stu so much. Nick has only been a vampire for a short time and loves bragging about it. This ultimately leads to dire consequences.

To make matters worse, vampires aren’t the only believed-to-be mythical creatures roaming round Wellington. A run in with some werewolves proves to be troublesome as well. The leader of the pack, Anton (Rhys Darby) tries to diffuse the situation, but pack member Dion (Cohen Holloway) only exacerbates things by breaking the code of “Werewolves not Swear-wolves.”

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Will the vampires and werewolves ever be able to put their differences aside? I’ll never tell. At the end of the day, though, vampires are just like us. Except they can fly. And they can’t eat fries. Or sun bathe. And they drink blood. And don’t have reflections. But the solidarity runs deep. And that’s what really matters.

Shadows hits everything: love, friendship, loss, and the importance of changing into track pants so that your trousers don’t rip to shreds when you transform into a werewolf during a full moon. Also noteworthy are the visual FX. Some are digital, but others are as simple as camera tricks. From occasional vampirical flight to an expertly blurred shot when a dude’s head is turned all the way around. There’s no WETA Digital here. Just damn clever camera work.

Taika Waititi truly has the Midas Touch. He is the epitome of a comedic genius. Waititi earned a cult following with his first feature length film, Eagle vs Shark, which also starred his co-writer/director on Shadows, Jemaine Clement. The two met at university and went on to form comedy troupes So You’re a Man and The Humourbeasts. Maybe most impressive about Shadows is that everything outside of the scene in which Taika speaks German is improvised. Waititi and Clement should always work together forever. The results are 1000% magic.

While he is currently directing what will likely be one of the biggest films of 2017 — Thor: Ragnarok — Waititi has truly worked his way up the ranks to get where he is now. It’s lovely to see someone achieving the success and accolades they deserve. Taika is a voice for the unappreciated, largely unknown filmmakers of the world.

In addition to being one of the last bastions of true grit in cinema, he’s got the most skux crew I’ve seen. In my favorite film of this year, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, you see a lot of the same actors from his previous films. Not only are they wildly talented — all possessing a refreshingly natural gift for their art — you wanna  be friends with these folks. Shit, I wanna say, “To hell with it” myself and move to New Zealand because that would increase my odds of hanging out with them exponentially.

If you haven’t seen What We Do in the Shadows, buy it today. If you download it for free, I’ll personally find you and poke you with implements. Takeaway points: we should all be lucky enough to have a Stu in our lives and if there’s something you want out of life that seems unattainable, just say, “To hell with it” and go after it anyway.

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BONUS TRIVIA: The role of Stu is played by a guy named Stu Rutherford. He was hired on the film to do actual computer work and was told he’d have a small part in the movie. He was actually a business analyst in Wellington at the time. I guess that worked out, eh?

 

 

 

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

2002

Y’all know me. Know how much I love Jaws. About a week ago, the host of the How Is This Movie? podcast, Dana Buckler, reached out to me on Twitter via my personal account, @mister_quint. He complimented my username and said that Jaws is also his favorite movie.

My first thought was, “Oh yeah? How many Jaws tattoos do YOU have?”

But then he invited me to join him on his show to do a Jaws retrospective next month and I humbled up real quick.

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After chatting with Dana, I found out that he not only possesses a wealth of movie knowledge that rivals my own and likely surpasses it, but he’s just an affable guy.

Turns out he’d read some of my reviews and — outside of putting me in touch with a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association — he asked if I’d like to have a weekly segment on the show!

Gee, I don’t know… should Spielberg have killed off Hooper in the movie? Yes! Absolutely!

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This Fall I will be joining the How Is This Movie? show doing a weekly film review of a new release! That differs from the show’s typical fare in that it’s about something new to theaters as of the weekend before. Pretty neat!

Our Jaws episode will be my official introduction to the How Is This Movie? audience and will cover everything from the novel by Peter Benchley — the existence of Jaws before the movie was even a twinkle is Spielberg’s eye — to the brilliantly bad, sometimes almost actually good sequels.

2003

Just two superfans talking about Jaws. It should be noted that I initially types “Jawas” there. That would be a very different episode.

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Don’t Think Twice

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As someone who has only recently started doing improv, this movie is aptly named. My first improv teacher told me once, and I quote, “I wanna see you just going for it. If someone comes into a scene and says, ‘Hey! I’m here to kill you!’ you’re gonna say, ‘Alright! Let’s do it, baby!'”

That’s the idea. Abandon conscious thought and just exist in the moment; inside that scene. It’s sort of like Vegas. Whatever happens in the scene stays in the scene. Never to be recreated exactly the same way again. That’s one of the things that makes improv so genuine, challenging, and — to that end — entertaining for both the performers and the audience.

Don’t Think Twice is about a tenacious New York City based improv troupe called The Commune, comprised of six players; Jack, Samantha, Miles, Bill, Allison, and Lindsay (Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci, and Tami Sagher, respectively).

Close-knit and deeply supportive of one another, the group functions as a family unit. They’re like a way less gooey version of The Partridge Family. While ready and able to ‘Yes, and…’ the crap out of each other, they’re also in that nice, comfy nook of familiarity where it’s totally cool to poke fun and even criticize — for the most part — without hurt feelings.

Their shows are typically sold out and the dynamic is super solid. Unfortunately, improv is rarely a lucrative career. The heart is invested but the rent still needs to get paid. The Commune has their collective eye on the prize, the prize being a popular sketch show on television called Weekend Live.

No matter how well things seem to be going, reality will always come barging in like the Kool-Aid man. When a couple of members of the group are invited to audition for Weekend Live after a successful show, tension builds and ties begin to sever, leaving everyone on the edge of an existential crisis.

For some, improv is a hobby; a fun thing to do with friends. For others, it is everything. But the universe will always inevitably draw a line in the sand at some point and we all wind up having to make a choice.

The crushing fear of failure is often the motive to our actions as people and artists. It can make us do things we mightn’t normally do. One of the writers of the film — and one of my favorite dudes — Mike Birbiglia has touched on betrayal and slandering amongst those trying to make it in comedy. It’s such a strange notion, but at the end of the day it’s like any other competitive field; Our natural instincts kick in and we do things out of desperation to get ahead.

As for The Commune, I think Birbiglia’s heart is bigger than his brain. We never see true savagery within them; the kind that might occur outside the confines of a passion project. Birbiglia wrote and directed the film. He also produced it along side Ira Glass of WBEZ’s This American Life with whom he co-wrote his first feature film, Sleepwalk With Me. Rounding out the foursome of producers on this movie are two wildly talented and funny women, Miranda Bailey and Amanda Marshall, both of whom also produced one of my favorites this year — Swiss Army Man.

It’s no surprise that the movie is sharp, authentic, and — at times — quite dismal. It’s also absurdly funny. Duh. The cast is packed with brilliantly entertaining, watchable actors. The story is honest and a little heartbreaking and that’s refreshing. Not everything in life has a happy ending.

After the screening I attending at the Music Box Theatre here in Chicago, Improv Nerd Podcast host Jimmy Carrane lead a Q&A with Birbigs. One of my favorite quotes of the night from Mike was, “As artists, all you have to give is yourself. That’s all you have. If you can’t, why do it?” It’s a lovely sentiment and couldn’t be more true.

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When it was my turn to ask a question, Birbigs had made it undeniably clear that he was hot. It was very hot in the theater. Unfortunately, I went fangirl on him and just had to tell him what a huge fan I am before asking my question.

The exchange went a little like this:

Me: Hi Mike! I’m such a huge fan.
Birbigs: That’s great. Do you have a question?
Me: I do! At this point, you’ve done it all: improv, stand up, television, movies…
Birbigs: I know what I’ve done. That’s me. What’s your question?

Crowd erupts.

Birbigs: I’m sorry. It’s so hot in here and people are leaving. I feel bad.
— turning back to me —
I’m sorry. What’s your name?
Me: Katie.
Birbigs: Katie, what’s your question? I’ve done stand up, improv, movies…
Me: Yes, you’ve done all of that, and I was wondering…
Birbigs: (shouting) Katie, I know!

Crowd erupts again.

Me: What’s been your favorite?
Birbigs: (to Jimmy) What’d she say?

Jimmy tried his best to reiterate, but the theater was a sweaty, hot ass mess at this point. People laughing. People leaving. Mike, sweating through his jacket.

Me: No. That wasn’t my question. My question was, out of those things, what has been your favorite?

He said that he’s really enjoyed doing film because of the creative freedom it offers. I sat back down and got ready. I’d brought a copy of Jaws and a sharpie. I wanted to be the only person in the world with a copy of Jaws signed by Mike Birbiglia. Unfortunately, when the Q&A came to a close, he high-tailed it outta there. I would’ve too, to be perfectly honest. I run at Human Torch temps all the time and I get it.

Anyway, I got a Mike Birbiglia patented, “I know” loudly addressed directly to me. Mainly because he was expiring under his button-down right before our eyes. That’s like Aaron Paul calling somebody a bitch. It was very special and I’ll keep it in my pocket forever.

Don’t Think Twice opens July 22nd. Don’t give it a second thought! Just go see it!

Sorry. I’ll show myself out.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Ivry so offen, a film comes along that makes you feel as happy as a box of budgies. A brilliant, corker of a movie. Taika Waititi — Kiwi, actor, writer, producer, director, dang handsome bloke, and a real hard case — spint heaps of time on this film. Well, good on ya, mate! All that hard yakka paid off in spades! Chur!

That’s it. That’s all the New Zealand slang I’ve got. If you didn’t read it in a New Zealand accent, you probably thought I was having a stroke. Nope! Just flexing my Kiwi muscle!

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a bad egg. Known on the streets for kicking stuff, throwing stuff, stealing stuff, running away, and spitting — just to name a few — Ricky gets shipped off to live with a foster family in the country. His Foster Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) does her best to make him feel welcome, even decorating his room with fun kitsch and a “nice sharp knife to kill the monsters in the night”.

Unfortunately for Ricky, his Foster Uncle, Hec (Sam Neill), isn’t as keen on having him around as Bella is. They make it work, though, celebrating Ricky’s 13th birthday by gifting him a dog that he names Tupac. Perfect.

Feeling like he’s finally found his place in the world, Ricky spends his days playing  with Tupac, reciting Haiku poems, and hunting with Aunt Bella. Sadly, nothing gold can stay. Following events unforeseen, a letter arrives from Child Services explaining that Ricky must return to the foster system to find new placement.

Steadfastly refusing to return to the system, Ricky makes a run for it, burning a decoy Ricky in hopes that the paper plate head he’s fashioned of himself will throw Child Services, convincing them that he is only charred remains.

It doesn’t work. None of that matters, because he’s already off in the bush; a wild and unforgiving, muddy place where he’ll live on his own in Rickytown. Population: Ricky. And Tupac. Only he’s very slow and easy to track, leading Hec right to him to take him back. Finding shelter for the night, the two discover that Hec is wanted by the law and are forced to overcome their differences as they are now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

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I’ve seen a lot of movies in my day. My favorite has been Jaws since I was 8-years-old. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is making me question that loyalty. This movie is choc-a-block with rock solid performances. That’s a little more Kiwi for ya.

Taika Waititi wrote his first adaptation of the book that Wilderpeople is based on — Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump — back in 2005. He’s gone on to say that he’s glad he didn’t make the movie then because he’s learned so much about what gets audiences to the theaters. Things like car chases and “the endurance of the renegade”. Whatever he’s doing is working like gangbusters.

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Wilderpeople is sneaky in the way that it gets the viewer to care deeply for Hec and Ricky. By the end, you’re so attached to these characters — who are both kind of assholes — but also share an extraordinarily relatable vulnerability. And that creates a sort of unspoken bond that exists not only between them, but for the audience as well.

Every single person in this movie contributes to its greatness. No role — however small — goes unnoticed or unappreciated. It is aggressively funny, clever, and — at times — perfectly absurd. And it’s all under the umbrella of a score that fits like a glove by Moniker.

For their part, Sam Neill and Julian Dennison absolutely murder their time on-screen. Neill — a Hollywood veteran — is always an enjoyable watch. Dennison — who has only recently started acting — is going to be incredibly successful in film. Not only is he adorable, but his comic timing is outstanding. And remember, he didn’t choose the skux life. The skux life chose him.

In closing, I’ve written a Haiku of my own. Ahem:

Wilderpeople is
majestical and the best
go see it right now

Chur!