Found below are two reviews of Jennifer Kent’s 2014 film, The Babadook, written by Lewis University students Margaret Gotsch and Elise Rosenberger.
Margaret Gotsch: The “Black Dog” in The Babadook
Research shows that mental illness remains one of the strongest taboos and that people with mental illness face wide-spread stigmatization and discrimination. Mental illness is often described as a black cloud. Portrayals of mental illness frequently appear in films and the media; for instance, the 2010 film by Darren Aronofsky, which detailed a dancer’s struggle with schizophrenia, was entitled Black Swan; and, Winston Churchill – reportedly a manic-depressive – called his mental illness the “black dog.”
In director Jennifer Kent’s 2014 film, The Babadook, the black dog of mental illness is depicted as a large, amorphous black shape. In the film, Amelia is reeling from the loss of her husband, the demands of single parenthood, and the troubling behavior of her only son, Samuel. At first, it appears that Samuel is the problem, but like a canary in a mine, it becomes apparent that Samuel’s misbehavior merely foreshadows greater problems within this nuclear family. Samuel has violent outbursts and is expelled from school for hurting a classmate. Samuel blames Mr. Babadook, a character from a book, for his misdeeds. Babadook – “a bad book” – predicts that Mr. Babadook will come to a child and ask to be let in and will then ask the same of the child’s mother.
Found below are two reviews of Jordan Peele’s 2017 film, Get Out, written by Lewis University students Sarah Bettag and Anton Levitin.
Everyone has felt like an unwanted outsider at some point in their life. Get Out, directed and written by Jordan Peele, takes this feeling to a whole new level. This horror film seems to stray from the stereotypical horror genre with its distinct lack of creepy monster or dark, foreboding woods. Instead, the audience is treated to repeated close-up shots to give us an understanding of how Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), the main character, is feeling, while also highlighting that he’s a photographer. We are constantly at Chris’s eye level, which allows us to sympathize with his plight. However, Peele ditches the often clichéd use of extreme close-ups for an unshakable sensation of being constantly watched. The audience is treated to several jump scares at the beginning to create the sense of never quite being alone–underscoring the sense of surveillance throughout. Get Out also replaces the overt, thrilling hunting scenes of John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper with the perplexing impression that a noose is tightening around Chris’s neck. The non-diegetic music, which are screeching violins and unsettling Continue reading →
Found below are three reviews of Richard Kelly’s 2001 film, Donnie Darko, written by Lewis University students Hannah Cross, Megan O’Brien, and Joseph Pryzdia.
Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly, sends its audience down the rabbit hole (almost literally) into a twisted idea of time travel. The movie is suspenseful and brilliant as it alludes to other great works, notably: Alice in Wonderland. Donnie is followed by a white rabbit, which is the basis for his hallucinations and visions throughout the film. This movie’s genre lies somewhere in the spectrum of mystery, sci-fi, and teen angst in the John Waters tradition. The audience can easily relate to the feelings that Donnie has about being the outcast, not only in school but also in his family. Its satirical elements bring out some of the darker and dry humor in the movie. The canted cinematography and jagged editing of this film add to the eerie, chaotic, and unsettling feelings to the audience. While the majority of scenes are bright and colorful, every scene with the rabbit becomes visibly dark and muted by design to foreshadow the impending dark side of the film. Continue reading →
Found below is a collection of the lively, exceptional artwork of Angela Morris, a Lewis University student that we’re ecstatic to feature here. We’ve interlaced Morris’ bio and process piece between the eight hand-picked pieces we’ve highlighted in this post. See for yourself the stunning artistry of this young talent.
Angela Morris’ Bio:
I am a senior Illustration major at Lewis University. Experienced in multiple mediums, I had my first gallery show in the Caterpillar Gallery in Romeoville in the fall of 2016.
Found below are three reviews of the 2009 indie horror film, The House of the Devil, written by Lewis University students Alec Pace, Kayla Carson, and Gabrielle Vasilevskis.
The House of the Devil is amethodically structured film that highlights the monstrosities of the human psyche. Although the film’s slow-paced narrative may seem daunting to a viewer’s attention span, the director’s elaborate storytelling and strikingly visual ending make the viewing worthwhile. From the beginning, we are placed in Ti West’s homage to the 1980s as Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) walks back to her dorm room while listening to her Walkman. This is not the film’s only relationship to the 1980s as it was shot on 16mm film, which gives it a similar grainy look as many vintage films did in that era.
These retro elements of the film present feelings of nostalgia and intertextuality to films such as Halloween 1978, especially in relation to voyeurism. From the beginning, it seems that Samantha is being violated when Mr. Ulman stands her up at the school and lies to her about the details of the babysitting job. By this point in the film, Samantha is already the victim, before even confronting the two demons of the house. As Samantha’s stay in the Ulman’s house continues, she is forced deeper into a dark pattern by uncovering insightful clues on who the owners of the house really are. By halfway through the film, Samantha is already helpless; every time she comes closer to the truth of why she’s there, there is already someone one step ahead of her. That person is Victor Ulman, who we share the perspective of as we see Samantha sitting on the couch through the window. Not only does this first-person shot share elements to the opening scene of Halloween 1978, but it also puts the audience in the shoes of the violator.
Below is a review of the recently-released Thor: Ragnarok, written by Lewis University student Jerry Langosch.
Since 2008 with the release of Iron Man, Marvel Studios have been, like clockwork, pumping out energetic, focused films in their Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). They tell the tales of their plethora of superheroes and villains to the tune of millions of dollars in production costs, but billions in return from the box office, with 2012’s The Avengers being the shining star (making $1.5 billion on a $220 million budget). The Thor franchise, though, sticks out from the most from the bunch, as it is rooted in real Norse mythology. And though it is a tall order to hand over such material so heavily-rooted in mythology to any filmmaker, Marvel’s decision to put New Zealand’s Taika Waititi behind the third entry in this series is, astonishingly, the best move that the company has made in tapping directorial talent to date.
Found below are four reviews of the the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, written by Lewis University students Cynthia Saucedo, Andrea Ecarma, Star Quiroz, Jerry Langosch.
Searching for Sugar Man: A Modern Fairy Tale
Searching for Sugar Man (2012), directed by the late Malik Bendjelloul, tells a story that would be considered a modern fairy tale. Rodriguez is introduced as a mystery, untraceable man, and a prophet. The film’s mystery is built-up by using low-key lighting, shadows, and foggy images. Furthermore, when sound is utilized, it creates an eerie feeling and generates excitement, while the lack of sound highlights the importance of a scene. Playing Rodriguez’s actual soundtrack makes the audience recognize the true beauty in his music and leads them to wonder why he never made it in the music industry.