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REVIEW: Costner and Lane Go on a Solo Mission in ‘Let Him Go’

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner in Let Him Go. Credit : Kimberley French / Focus Features

For an actor who has repeatedly delivered iconic performances, particularly in the 90’s, Kevin Costner gets little respect. Sure, two major bombs were built around him (WaterworldThe Messenger), but his successes dwarf his failures. In days of antiheroes and sensitive leading men, one would be hard-pressed to find another performer embodying the (granted, old-fashioned) strong, silent type as well as Costner.

In Let Him Go, he and Diane Lane (his screen partner in Man of Steel) become George and Margaret Blackledge, two ranchers distressed over their grandson’s wellbeing. The Blackledges’ son died and his widow married a ne’er-do-well who squirrels them out of town. Their concern is not misplaced: Margaret witnessed the stepfather physically abuse the boy.

As the Blackledges take the road in search for the kid, they realize they’re going against a particularly vicious clan, the Weboys. The matriarch, Blanche (Lesley Manville), is a force of nature who intends to rule the life of every Weboy, whether related by blood or marriage.

While set in the 60’s in the American Midwest, Let Him Go is a western at heart (not for nothing Costner’s character is a retired sheriff). Director Thomas Bezucha delivers a contemplative, compelling film with brutal bursts of violence. Based on his filmography (Selena Gómez’ MontecarloThe Family Stone), I didn’t know he had it in him.

The plot is your standard good vs. evil clash, enhanced by terrific performances by Lane and Costner as ‘salt of the earth’ people and an appropriately camp turn by Manville, far cry from her restrained performance in Phantom Thread (few actors can say “I hope you like pork chops” in more threatening fashion). Kayli Carter as the daughter-in-law whose bad decisions started this mess doesn’t come close to match the strength of this formidable trio and it shows.

As the driver of the action, Diane Lane’s Margaret causes considerable mayhem and her husband ends up paying for all her brilliant ideas. Towards the end it becomes cartoonishly funny, not the intended outcome. Nevertheless, it’s the rare good movie daring to open in theatres and deserves some credit for that. Three planets packing heat.

Let Him Go is now playing at Scotiabank Theatre, Cineplex at The Centre and Landmark Cinemas. 

31 Days Of Horror: Night Of The Living Dead

“They’re coming to get you Barbara!”

Barbara (Judith O’Dea) amd her brother Johnny (Russell Streiner) are in a cemetery in the country when they are attacked by a strange man. Johnny is killed and Barbara runs to a farm house.

Barbara finds no one in the house but a dead woman. Ben (Duane Jones) arrives and barricades the house from the swarming group of undead outside.

They soon discover more people hiding in the house. Harry (Karl Hardman) and his wife Helen (Marilyn Eastman) and their injured daughter were attacked too and fled to the house. There is also Tom (Keith Wayne) and Judy (Judith Ridley).

Harry thinks they should all hide in the cellar. Ben thinks that they need to make a break for it.

George A. Romero created a masterpiece of horror with this film that changed modern horror movies and the way zombies are portrayed in films.

31 Days Of Horror: The Masque Of Red Death

A plague called the Red Death is sweeping through the local villages and Prince Prospero (Vincent Price) has ordered the village to be burned to the ground.

Prospero is a Satanist and rules the land ruthlessly. When two starving peasants confront Prospero he orders them killed. The one peasant’s daughter Francesca (Jane Asher) begs for mercy. Prospero takes Francesca back to his castle and imprisons the two men.

Prospero invites all the local nobility to his castle for a party. Prospero’s also tries to seduce Francesca much to Prospero’s mistress Juliana’s (Hazel Court) dismay.

Juliana wants to join Prospero’s Satanic cult. Meanwhile a red cloaked figure is lurking around and the villagers are getting desperate as the plague ravishes through them. They seek shelter at the castle while the party goes on.

Director Roger Corman had been adapting several Edgar Allen Poe stories and this is one of his more stylish and artistic interpretations. Price is excellent as always.

31 Days Of Horror: Train To Busan

A father is trying to take his daughter to her mother’s. Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) is divorced amd spends more time at work than with his daughter.

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Meanwhile a virus has broken out and is turning people into zombies. The zombie infection is spreading quickly through the city and people manage to avoid it at the train station by quickly boarding the train. Unbeknownst to everyone, an infected woman has boarded the train.

The woman turns into a zombie and quickly infects the passengers. Several of the cars are filled with the infected and the survivors have locked themselves in a safe car.

This South Korean horror movie is excellent and intense. Director Yeon Sang-ho made an animated prequel, Seoul Station. He also just made a sequel called  Peninsula that came out this year.

31 Days Of Horror: 28 Days Later

Animal rights activists free rage virus infected monkeys who quickly infect the people of London.

28 days later. London is a ghost town and Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in an abandoned hospital after being in a coma from an accident before the pandemic occured. Jim wanders the streets of London trying to figure out what has happened.

People infected with the rage virus become blood dripping fast running rage filled zombies.

Jim runs into some infected hut is saved by Selena (Naomie Harris). The two of them find two other survivors Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). They heard that there is a safe haven outside the city. They all travel there fighting their way through the infected.

Director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland created a new spin on the zombie genre and the gritty cinematography works well creating an intense and horrifying movie.

31 Days Of Horror: The Thing

I know that technically The Thing isn’t a virus, but it is an organism that infects people. Granted it eats and overtakes its host but it is very infectious and extremely contagious as far as alien absorbing creatures go.

John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing is a brilliant and terrifying masterpiece.

Kurt Russell is stationed in Antarctica along with Wilford Brimley, T. K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, and Thomas G. Waites. A Norwegian helicopter is chasing a dog trying to kill it and the dog runs into the American camp. The Norwegians accidentally kill themselves and the dog ends up staying in the camp.

Russel and Dysart fly to the Norwegian camp and find everyone dead there. They also find a very strange body that the Norwegians tried to burn. They bring the body back to camp to autopsy.

They find the dog trying to assimilate all the other dogs and realize after autopsying both the dog and the strange body that an alien creature is taking over the bodies on a molecular level.

Eveyone is paranoid and everyone doesn’t trust each other.

I love this movie. It’s intense and suspenseful and edge of your seat terrifying. Rob Bottin’s effects are amazing and Carpenter has crafted an excellent masterpiece of horror.

31 Days Of Horror: Isle Of The Dead

General Pherides (Boris Karloff) and reporter Oliver Davis (Marc Cramer) visit the Isle of the Dead to pay their respects to the General’s long-dead wife. The island is supposed to be deserted but the general and Davis find people there after following the voice of a singung woman.

Swiss archeologist Dr. Aubrecht (Jason Robards, Sr.), his housekeeper Madame Kyra (Helen Thimig), British diplomat Mr. St. Aubyn (Alan Napier) and his pale and sickly wife (Katherine Emery), her youthful Greek companion Thea (Ellen Drew), and English tinsmith Andrew Robbins (Skelton Knaggs) are all on the island.

The houskeeper Krya believes that Thea is a vorvolaka, a kind of vampire creature that brings plagues and tells the general who laughs it off as superstition. Davis starts to fall for Thea.

The next morning Robbins is found dead and Dr. Drossos (Ernst Deutsch) diagnosis the cause of death as septicemic plague and quarantines the island until a hot dry wind comes to the island.

Mr. St. Aubyn dies and they bury him quickly much to his wife’s chagrin who fears premature burial. Soon the general starts to believe that Thea is a vorvolaka.

Producer Val Lewton made several low budget horror movies for RKO Studios and all of them were excellent thrillers that dealt with more psychological horrors rather than actual monsters. Isle of the Dead works as paranoia and superstition grab hold of the quarantined people. Karloff’s performance is fantastic.

31 Days Of Horror: Land Of The Dead

The zombie plague has been around for a while now and the remaining humans have created new smaller settlements. In Pittsburgh using 2 rivers as a barrier and an electric fence as a third barrier people have a enclosed life, safe from the zombies.

Most of the people live in squalor but the rich live in a fancy high rise.

The leader of the settlement Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) has a group of people go out into the zombie infected zones looking for food and supplies in a large all terrain vehicle.

Riley (Simon Baker) and Charlie (Robert Joy) have been leading the supply runs but are quitting. Cholo (John Leguizamo) is also part of the group but has been saving up to buy his way into the sky rise.

When Kaufman refuses to let Cholo in, Cholo steals the all terrain vehicle and threatens to blow up the settlement. Kaufman forces Riley to go stop Cholo.

Meanwhile the zombies have slowly started gaining intelligence and amass a large group to attack the settlement.

George A. Romero created the modern zombie movie and after a long break after Day of the Dead returned to the genre with this film.

31 Days Of Horror: Cargo

Andy (Martin Freeman) and his wife Kay (Susie Porter) along with baby daughter Rosie are searching for supplies while a pandemic is ravaging Australia.

The virus turns people rabid in 48 hours. Kay has been bitten and bites Andy. Meanwhile an Aboriginal young girl named Thoomi (Simone Landers) is trying to protect her father who has been infected.

Andy travels with his daughter trying to find someone and someplace safe for her.

Along the way he runs into Thoomi when they both get captured by Vic (Anthony Hayes). They escape with Rosie.

This Australian film was directed Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke who based the film om their short film of the same name.

31 Days Of Horror: Stake Land

Vampired have overrun the world and the remaining humans live in fear and in small towns away from the big cities.

Martin (Connor Paolo) has had his family killed and teams up with a vampire hunter named Mister (Nick Damici). They are heading for a northern community that is supposed to be a safe haven.

Along the way they kill as many vampires as they can find. They also pick up random strangers that are looking for a safe place.

They also run afoul of group called The Brotherhood. Lead by Jebedia Loven (Michael Cerveris), The Brotherhood thinks that the vampires are sent by God are forcing people to join them or get sacrificed to the vampires.

This low budget horror movie is really good and spooky. The post apocalyptic look of the world kind of reminds me of The Road but with vampires.