Tag Archives: Lucy Boynton

Rock You They Will

Bohemian Rhapsody

by George Wolf

After several false stars and a midstream director change, the long-awaited Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic lands as a celebration of one legendary band and one bravura performance.

Rami Malek is a certified powerhouse as Mercury, the former Farrokh Buisara, the uniquely gifted performer and iconic presence who became of rock’s most enduring frontmen.

Mercury’s extravagant persona lent itself to caricature, but Malek has none of it. His is a true characterization, eerily mirroring the singer’s appearance, elegance, movements and, with help from both original Queen music and Mercury soundalike Marc Martel, his incredible voice.

Malek’s performance stands out all the more from the void left by Queen’s surviving band members. As executive producers, they’ve whitewashed themselves into more reaction shots and less actual human beings.

It’s one of several ways the film plays it safe and settles for a crowd-pleasing greatest hits package. Directors Bryan Singer and an uncredited Dexter Fletcher work wonders with the performance pieces (the thrilling recreation of Live Aid is worth paying for IMAX), but soften the sharp edges of rock hedonism enough for a PG-13 rating. And rock and roll ain’t PG-13.

The biggest missed chance comes in the relationship between Mercury and his muse for the song “Love of My Life,” Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton). From their first scenes together, Malek and Boynton fuel the emotional core of the film, creating an absence felt whenever screenwriter Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hours) broadens the focus, which is often.

Factual liberties are taken, timelines are sometimes carelessly misrepresented (“We Will Rock You” was not written in the 80s), and there’s a totally needless gag from Mike Myers, but whenever Bohemian Rhapsody is most unsteady, Queen’s music is there for a bailout.

It’s still great. And so is Malek.


Identity Crisis

The Blackcoat’s Daughter

by Hope Madden

Winter break approaches at a Catholic New England boarding school. Snow piles up outside, the buildings empty, yet Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton) remain. One has tricked her parents for an extra day with her townie boyfriend. One remains under more mysterious circumstances.

Things in writer/director Oz Perkins’s The Blackcoat’s Daughter quietly unravel from there – although quiet is not precisely the word for it. There is a stillness to the chilly, empty halls. But thanks to the filmmaker’s brother Elvis, whose disquieting score fills these empty spaces with buzzing, whispering white noise, a sinister atmosphere is born.

Like Perkins’s Netflix-produced follow up I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House, Blackcoat’s Daughter breathes atmosphere and tension. Perkins repays your patience and your attention. You can expect few jump scares, but this is not exactly a slow-burn of a film, either.

It behaves almost in the way a picture book does. In a good picture book, the words tell only half the story. The illustrations don’t simply mirror the text, they tell their own story as well. If there is one particular and specific talent Blackcoat’s Daughter exposes in its director, it is his ability with a visual storyline.

Perkins is also a master at generating tension, a kind built on unsure footing. The filmmaker routinely touches on your expectations, quietly toying with them. He introduces characters and situations rife with horror possibilities, but equally plausible as images of safety: priests in a boarding school, cars on an icy road, James Remar in a motel room.

Remar’s mug can be associated with so many villainous characters that his presence in this film as a concerned father figure is perfect. There is one masterpiece of a scene between Remar and Emma Roberts – one that dances with to so many different rhythms of danger – and it perfectly encapsulates this filmmaker’s power over an audience.

When the slow and deliberate dread turns to outright carnage – when Perkins punctuates his forbidding atmosphere with hard action – he loses his footing just a bit. But Blackcoat’s Daughter is a thoughtful little horror show, its final act a fascinating rethinking of old horror tropes.

Pay attention when you watch this one. There are loads of sinister little clues to find.


Don’t Knock At All

Don’t Knock Twice

by Hope Madden

Two Thomas the Tank Engine writers team up with fledgling director Caradog James to talk of witches, urban legends, estranged children and doors.

They just don’t do it very well.

Do you ever watch a horror film where a storyline leads to a jump scare, and then characters move on with their lives as if no spindly legged giant demon woman just crawled out of their closet toward them? They just go to the next scene?

Frustrating, right?

Welcome to Don’t Knock Twice.

The film follows a recovered addict turned successful sculptor (Katee Sackhoff) as she tries to regain custody of the teen daughter she gave up years ago. Chloe (Lucy Boynton – who was so good in last year’s Sing Street) wants nothing to do with her mum until buddy Danny goes missing and Chloe suspects the long dead neighborhood witch is to blame.

A mishmash of horror tropes follows as Chloe and her mother believe idiocy and do ridiculous things.

There’s a Baba Yaga – nice! Now there’s a fresh idea.

There’s also a beautiful foreigner spinning hocusy pocusy nonsense, which is straight out of every “her husband left town and something supernatural is happening” piece of garbage ever to be set to film.

Lucy Boynton has talent. Katee Sackhoff, as far as Don’t Knock Twice exposes, does not. Her flat delivery never suggests the maternal devotion meant to drive her character’s actions and her chemistry with the rest of the cast is nonexistent.

The main trouble, however, is James. He cannot create a cohesive mythology, which is especially important in supernatural horror. Very little holds together and even less holds your attention.

It’s a mystery, you see – one that routinely mentions doors without ever really doing anything with that; one that returns repeatedly to clues just to pretend they mean something different this time; one that asks you to accept that a conscious human could find a box of evidence in her own art studio and not ask, “Hey, how did this get here?!”

It’s bad, is what I’m saying.

And worse yet, it’s dull.