Tag Archives: Clancy Brown

Bad Boys for Life

Promising Young Woman

by Hope Madden

Emerald Fennell keeps you guessing.

In a riotous and incredibly assured feature debut as writer and director, she twists both knife and expectations in a rape-revenge riff that’s relevant, smart and surprisingly hilarious.

If you like your humor dark.

Carey Mulligan is flawless—when is she not?—as Cassandra. By day the one-time med student ignores customers from behind a coffee house counter. By night, she pretends to be obliterated in local clubs and dive bars.

Why would she do that? Well honestly, it’s because Cassandra’s life has lost its purpose and this is to a great degree the drug that numbs her. These opportunities to puncture the moral delusions of self-proclaimed “nice guys” who take her home provide catharsis. It’s like her own version of purgatory, as she forever tries to make amends for that one night back in med school.

And these moments are priceless as, one by one, Fennell exposes the hideous reality of gender norms and how little it takes for a man to be considered a good dude.

Mulligan is marvelous, giving Cassie the courage that comes from an utter disinterest in the opinions or well-being of others. And then a good guy from med school (Bo Burnham) stops in for coffee (in one of Mulligan’s finest, funniest scenes) and the stakes get higher.

Maybe she has a shot at turning the tables on those she considers responsible for this pain. Or maybe she’s found her one chance to put this pain behind her.

It’s a tightly wound script populated by spot on performances. Fennell has a gift for casting small roles with actors who can find the absurd humor and realistic horror of every situation: Jennifer Coolidge, Clancy Brown, Adam Brody, Laverne Cox, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse. But the cherry on this sundae is Burnham, who is quietly magnificent.

A pessimism runs through Fennell’s film that’s hard to ignore and even harder to criticize. But the film is true to the character of Cassie—a woman who’s profoundly dark and unforgiving but not wrong.

Fennell’s film is not a nuanced drama concerning rape culture. It’s not telling us anything we don’t honestly know already. It’s not a scalpel to the brain, it’s a sledge hammer to the testicles.

And why not?

Funeral for a Friend

The Mortuary Collection

by Hope Madden

“Have you any experience in the mortuary arts?”

So begins a conversation between Raven’s End’s mysterious mortician and a young woman who’s come to answer the help wanted sign out front in writer/director Ryan Spindell’s fun and stylish horror anthology, The Mortuary Collection.

Mortician Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown) has tales to tell of the lives and deaths in Raven’s End. His new assistant Sam (Caitlin Custer) is an eager listener, but also tough to please.

Such is the framing device for the anthology of short horrors, much like the one from Rusty Cundieff’s 1995 collection, Tales from the Hood (and just a bit like Jeff Burr’s 1987 anthology with Vincent Price, From a Whisper to a Scream).

The framing device is so often the best part.

Brown conjures a bit of Angus Scrimm (Phantasm’s Tall Man), channeling a little Tom Noonan as well, to create a spooky but somehow vulnerable master of ceremonies. Custer’s is an intriguing character, challenging her host, never squeamish or spooked. It makes for an interesting dynamic that turns more into a conversation on storytelling than you might expect.

The tales themselves are all set in and around a town where newspaper headlines speak of beasts, asylums, and missing persons. Raven’s End and its stories possess an unidentifiably vintage quality, something fictional and fanciful, modern and yet of an indeterminate past.

Characters sometimes pop up in multiple tales, each story boasting that patented twist ending you’d expect from a Tales from the Crypt episode. Some of the shorts are stronger than others (as Sam likes to point out to Mr. Dark), but the performances are all very solid, and Spindell peppers every story with fun bits of dialog.

“They won’t let me near a scalpel, and for good reason.”

There isn’t a weak short in the bunch, and though certainly some of the twists are not surprising, the execution is slick, the shorts are gorgeous and moody, and Clancy Brown is an absolute treat.