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Fantasia 2015: ‘The Hallow’ is hollow horror

Irish legends are rich with horrifying monsters, painful realities and a genuine sense of despair. Perhaps rooted in the Irish struggle, many of the lessons from their myths evoke inequality and injustice – it does not matter who you are, what you believe or what you do, you are not above nature’s law. What is nature’s law? It is a perverse combination of God’s will and an amoral natural world. Set in the mostly undisturbed forests of Ireland, The Hallow is about a conservationist (Joseph Mawle) and his young family. Despite many warnings from the locals, he persists in investigating the forests, eventually inspiring its wrath.

RVCQ 2015: ‘Les Loups’ is the first great Quebec film of 2015

The dark unforgiving waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the St. Lawrence river provide the backdrop to Les Loups, a beautifully crafted melodrama. Set in a small island Quebec town during the spring thaw, a stranger arrives during the height of the controversial seal hunts. Vibrant and mysterious, many suspect that Elie, the young woman from Montreal, is not who she says and is likely a reporter or an activist bent on portraying the townsfolk in a bad light.

Melanie Laurent’s ‘Respire’ probes the depths of a toxic friendship

What is love? Love is a pain, love is death, love is a bitch. But friendship, that’s even worse. Friendship is nebulous; it’ll steal your affections, spread rumors about you, scrawl dirty lies on your locker. Life-affirming and, ultimately, life-ending, friendship is like coffee laced with slow-acting poison. At least that’s how it works in Melanie Laurent’s gorgeous Respire, an unsettling usurpation of your usual coming-of-age story, and one of the most confident sophomore films of recent memory.

FNC 2013: ‘Our Sunhi’ is a charming comedy of errors

Our Sunhi, the newest film from Hong Sang-Soo, is enamoured with interconnected romances and the mysteries of affection. A charming and patient comedy, the film excels at presenting the trials and tribulations of desire, offering a rewarding and funny take on the mysteries of love. Though there is nothing exceptional about the title character, Sunhi, she captures the elusive affections of three friends.

FNC 2013: ‘Bluebird’ is a stunning debut about loss and hope

Borne out of the current economic crisis, Bluebird is set in an obscure and isolated logging town in Maine. Coated in snow that seems to be barely ever cleared, there is a lingering fear that the mill will close and the town will fade even deeper into the past. Lost in the rituals of daily life, it is only through accidental tragedy that a true sense of malaise and hopelessness comes rising from below the surface.

BFI London Film Festival 2013: ‘All Is Lost’ a gripping, tense tale of survival

The Oscar-nominated director and writer of last year’s potent Wall Steet drama Margin Call has circumnavigated the perils of sophomore filmmaking with All Is Lost. This is J.C. Chandor’s remarkable nautical thriller, plunging its audience into a whirlpool nightmare scenario. In a solo role, Robert Redford is a nameless figure, a stoic seaman sailing through the Pacific roughly 1,700 miles from civilisation before being jolted awake after an abandoned cargo container ruptures a yawning gape in his modest single-berth schooner.

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