DON’T LOOK UP (2021) -Adam McKay’s On Point Satire Is One of the Best Movies of the Year


If the human race survives long enough, and we’re able to look back years from now at DON’T LOOK UP (2021), the new movie by director/writer Adam McKay, a satire which asks the question what if an extinction-event asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, and nobody cared because they were told it wasn’t really happening, we might say, “What was that all about? I don’t get it.

And if not for the times we now live in, and the absurd shenanigans of the prior Trump administration, I wouldn’t get it either. I certainly wouldn’t believe it. But the events depicted in DON’T LOOK UP while supposedly meant to be satiric and funny are in reality terrifying because of what happened during the years of 2016-2020.

Some people have complained that DON’T LOOK UP isn’t as funny as it should be. I disagree. The humor is definitely there, but more importantly, so is the truth, and the truth is, as ridiculous as this movie plot sounds on paper, it’s not any more ludicrous than what has happened in real life. I found this story frightening.

And that’s why I loved this movie. It scared the sh*t out of me and made me laugh while doing it. I hope we survive long enough to be able to look back and laugh at this one, at these insane times. I imagine it’s how audiences felt after first viewing Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant satire DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964), a film which poked fun at a possible nuclear holocaust.

In DON’T LOOK UP, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his Ph.D. doctoral candidate assistant Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) make the shocking discovery of an asteroid that is on a collision course with Earth and that upon impact will destroy all life on the planet. Their findings are corroborated by NASA scientist Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan). Because this is an obviously dire situation, they are granted an audience with the President, President Orlean (Meryl Streep), but their meeting doesn’t go as expected. They are met with doubts and skepticism and are told to sit tight and wait for the president to get her own people to check into the situation, even though they know with near absolute certainty that the cataclysmic event will indeed happen in six months.

Try as they might, Mindy, Dibiasky, and Oglethorpe just can’t get their message out, and eventually, when the asteroid does get close enough to become visible, the political lines become drawn, and the president’s party’s rallying becomes “don’t look up!” which people at her rallies continually chant, the argument being, the opposition party “just wants to scare you. You are free not to look up.” Sound familiar?

DON’T LOOK UP is sharp satire with a lot to say about where we are right now as a society, and Adam McKay is able to make his points successfully because he shakes things up just enough to prevent any obvious political lines being drawn. The fact-avoiding president is a woman, and so while many of the criticisms are aimed at the prior Trump administration, the president in this movie is not a white conservative male. Political parties are never named or mentioned. Even traditional conservative/liberal divisions aren’t identified. Streep’s President Orlean has a photo of Bill and Hillary Clinton on her desk, for example. What McKay aims for with DON’T LOOK UP is what happens when you play fast and loose with the truth, and he mostly hits his mark with a satire which doesn’t quit.

McKay has done this before, with films like THE BIG SHORT (2015) and VICE (2018), where he mixes humor with sharp hard-hitting points.

DON’T LOOK UP is full of so many on-point moments, from little ones like the news host on an unnamed news network who even as the asteroid is hitting the earth refuses to give the event any airtime, instead talking about “the big news event of the day, topless urgent care workers.” Again, years from now people might raise an eyebrow and wonder WTF? But you only have to watch news coverage today to see that the same things happens every day.

There are larger moments. DiCaprio’s Dr. Mindy finally loses it near the end, and on a national news magazine TV show goes off on a “mad as hell” rant that is obviously reminiscent and inspired by the classic Peter Finch scene in NETWORK (1976). It’s no less upsetting.

The cast is spectacular.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a role he doesn’t often play, a neurotic nervous type who can barely get a cognizant word out when first on the national stage. It was fun to watch DiCaprio play someone who wasn’t cooler than cool. It was also eye-opening to see him playing someone his own age or older, with adult sons. DiCaprio is a terrific actor, and I’ve been a fan for a long while. He nails this role, which comes as no surprise.

It was good to see Jennifer Lawrence back on screen again. While she’s a bit more subdued here than we’ve seen her in the past, her Kate Dibiasky is still a fiery character and fun to watch. Because she is outspoken, she gets considerable pushback from people in power and also from viewers at home, and she gets pummeled in real time on social media, which is another target of McKay’s satire. What he depicts happening on social media is absolutely insane. It’s also true. Dibiasky also has to endure her boyfriend breaking up with her on a social media platform.

Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep, and she nails President Orlean, keeping her from being just a caricature. Cate Blanchett knocks it out of the park as TV news host Brie Evantee, who finds Dr. Mindy attractive and initiates an affair between them. She is so on point she makes her character almost nauseating to watch.

Jonah Hill, while once again playing a role that is within his comfort zone, nonetheless enjoys many fine moments as Orlean’s son Jason, who’s also Chief of Staff. His “prayer” near the end of the movie for “all the stuff we’re going to lose” is priceless.

Mark Rylance delivers the most inspired and disturbing performance in the film, as Peter Isherwell, one of the richest men on the planet who is also something of a feel-good digital age techno guru. It’s Isherwell who convinces President Orlean to ignore Mindy’s science and follow his own, which of course has not been verified by other world scientists.

Rob Morgan is solid as Dr. Oglethorpe, and Ron Perlman is hilarious as Benedict Drask, the foul-mouthed astronaut of “another generation” who is chosen to lead the mission to destroy the asteroid. The cast also includes Tyler Perry, Timothee Chalamet, and Ariana Grande.

Director McKay wrote the screenplay, based on a story by David Sirota. It’s a fabulous screenplay, as nearly everything about it works.

I loved DON’T LOOK UP, and while it’s showing up here late in the year, it just might be my favorite movie of the year. It’s a Netflix movie, and right now is showing both at theaters and on Netflix.

Check it out. This is one you definitely do not want to miss.

And unless you’ve had your head in the sand the past several years, you’ll get exactly what McKay is talking about. He’s giving us DON’T LOOK UP as both a frightening look at where we are and a wake-up call. The asteroid hurtling towards Earth is a perfect metaphor for any major problem we face in the world today and what happens when those in charge decide not to tell the people the truth but instead feed them lies.

DiCaprio’s Dr. Mindy’s final few lines are chilling and come after he and his family are enjoying a last dinner together, reminiscing about their happy memories and what they’re thankful for. He says, in effect, we really had everything, didn’t we?

We too have everything. And that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

There’s an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. You can see it if you just look up. Or you can listen to those who tell you that looking up is a sign of weakness, that it’s politically motivated, and that you need to stand up for your rights and not look up, and that the threat isn’t as dire as others say.

But it is, and to see for yourself, all you have to do is look up.

Do you?




Ready to go batty?

Good!  Then check out THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933), an atmospheric vampire movie from the 1930s starring Lionel Atwill in the lead role of mad scientist Dr. Otto van Niemann.

In THE VAMPIRE BAT, Atwill demonstrates that had the stars been aligned differently, he might have become a major horror movie star, rather than just a supporting actor, playing as he so often did police inspectors in the Universal Frankenstein and Dracula movies.  He delivers a fine performance in THE VAMPIRE BAT, and there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t have continued to play lead roles in future films with similar success.

A small village is up in arms over a series of vampire-like murders, in which the victims have been drained of all their blood.  Karl, the local police inspector (Melvyn Douglas) doesn’t believe in vampires and instead insists the crimes have been committed by a human culprit.

His girlfriend Ruth (Fay Wray) works for Dr. van Niemann (Lionel Atwill) whose strange experiments should have raised some eyebrows, but since he’s such a respected member of the community, he escapes suspicion.  Instead, the villagers accuse the town simpleton, Herman (Dwight Frye) of being the vampire, since he loves bats and is seen regularly handling the creatures.  

The villagers chase Herman through the countryside with hunting dogs, in a scene clearly reminiscent of the chase scene at the end of FRANKENSTEIN (1931).  In fact, if you happen to stumble upon this scene unaware of what you are watching, you might suspect you are seeing some long lost footage from FRANKENSTEIN of the villagers chasing Henry Frankenstein’s assistant Fritz (also played by Dwight Frye).  At the end of the chase, Herman falls from a cliff to his death, and the villagers then drive a stake through his heart.  They are ecstatic that they have killed the vampire, but this only lasts a few hours, until another victim is drained of blood.

Eventually, Karl’s investigation leads him to Dr. van Niemann, and he discovers that the doctor has been hypnotizing his assistant to commit these murders in order to obtain human blood for his experiments.

The plot of THE VAMPIRE BAT is nothing new, nor is it very exciting.  The screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, who also wrote the screenplays for HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) and HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945), is average at best, and the biggest strike against the story is that it’s not about a real vampire.  Heck, it’s not even about a real vampire bat!  

Director Frank Strayer does little at the helm to make this one stand out, as THE VAMPIRE BAT contains nary a memorable scene.  

The reason to watch THE VAMPIRE BAT is its cast.  Lionel Atwill is more than satisfactory in the lead role as Dr. van Niemann.  Although Atwill’s signature role, his defining moment in horror cinema remains his one-armed police inspector in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939), a supporting role, in the early 1930s Atwill was getting lead roles, and he was shining in them, including 1933’s MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, which also starred Fay Wray.  He’s a convincing mad scientist here in THE VAMPIRE BAT, sinister yet likeable enough to hide his madness from those around him.  Atwill does a good job of not going too over the top with the role.

Also in the cast is Dwight Frye, who sadly was already being typecast in 1933 playing weird madmen.  Frye of course stole the show as Renfield in the Lugosi DRACULA (1931) and nearly repeated the effort as Henry Frankenstein’s hunchback assistant Fritz in FRANKENSTEIN (1931).  Here, he’s Herman, the man who loves bats, who tragically gets chased to his death because the villagers feared he was a vampire.  Frye seemed to be able play these parts in his sleep.  

It was a busy year for Fay Wray.  In addition to appearing in both THE VAMPIRE BAT and MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM in 1933, she also of course had a notable encounter with one Mr. King Kong in KING KONG (1933).  Interestingly enough, Wray was not a natural blonde and wore a wig in KING KONG.  She has her natural brunette hair here in THE VAMPIRE BAT.  Wray was actually a very good actress and could do a lot more than just scream.  She’s relaxed and very natural in THE VAMPIRE BAT.

The other main star on hand was Melvyn Douglas who went on to make many, many movies and win two Academy Awards.  He had starred the year before in the atmospheric Boris Karloff film THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932), and Douglas would return to the genre many years later with two notable performances, with George C. Scott in THE CHANGELING (1980) and in Peter Straub’s GHOST STORY (1981).  

And then there’s Lionel Belmore as the Burgomaster, playing nearly the same exact role he enacted in FRANKENSTEIN (1931), providing yet another connection to the Boris Karloff classic (as well as the fact that both films were shot on the same Universal village set giving both films similar exterior shots.)

When it comes to early 1930s vampire movies, I prefer DRACULA (1931), MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935) and VAMPYR (1932) to THE VAMPIRE BAT, which doesn’t have as much atmosphere or story as these three classics.

But it does have a great cast, including vintage Lionel Atwill.  I like Atwill a lot, and it’s a shame he didn’t have substantial roles in more movies.  He rarely disappoints.

And for that matter, neither does THE VAMPIRE BAT.  While it’s not a classic of the genre, it is a showplace for some terrific performers working at the top of their craft.


—This IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column was originally published in 2010 in THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION. It was recently republished within those same pages in November 2021.

THE UNFORGIVABLE (2021) – Grim Netflix Movie Features Powerhouse Performance by Sandra Bullock


I have to say that during this pandemic, in which I haven’t been to the theater to see a movie since March 2020, Netflix has been churning out some pretty darn good movies with some really impressive casts.

Their latest, THE UNFORGIVABLE (2021), stars Sandra Bullock as an ex-con just out of prison trying to contact the baby sister she had to leave behind after she was charged with murdering a local sheriff, in what is one of Bullock’s best acting performances to date.

THE UNFORGIVABLE opens with Ruth Slater (Sandra Bullock) leaving prison after serving a twenty-year prison sentence for murder. Her parole officer Vincent Cross (Rob Morgan) sets her up with a job at a fish factory and reminds her that she cannot have any contact with her estranged sister Katherine (Aisling Franciosi) who has no memory of her and is now living with an adoptive family, Michael (Richard Thomas) and Rachel Malcolm (Linda Emond) and their daughter Emily (Emma Nelson).

But Ruth can’t forget her sister, and so eventually she hires a lawyer John Ingram (Vincent D’Onofrio) to contact Katherine’s adoptive parents in order to set up a dialogue in the hope of some day re-entering Katherine’s life. In the meantime, life for Ruth is exceedingly difficult. We learn through flashbacks that Ruth’s mother died giving birth to Katherine, and so Ruth raised her, as their father was pretty much useless. And after he committed suicide, she lost the farmhouse in which they lived, and when the sheriff’s department arrived to evict them, that’s when she shot and killed the sheriff.

Now as an ex-con and a cop killer, she has a target on her back, and her life is constantly threatened, not only from society, but more specifically from the two adult sons of the sheriff she murdered, who have vowed to do whatever it takes to get back at her.

While I have seen better written stories than the one told in THE UNFORGIVABLE, I really enjoyed this movie all the same. The biggest reason? The exceptional acting performances by everyone involved, starting with Sandra Bullock.

The last time we saw Bullock, she was also excellent in the apocalyptic horror movie BIRD BOX (2018), but her acting here in THE UNFORGIVABLE is on a whole other level. Bullock has enjoyed a long and varied career, going waaay back to the action thriller SPEED (1994), and she has certainly had her share of dramatic performances, in such movies as THE BLIND SIDE (2009) and GRAVITY (2013), but here in THE UNFORGIVABLE she delivers a transformational performance in which she loses herself in the role and really becomes Ruth Slater. Her emotions are authentic and run deep.

She gets some powerhouse scenes here. One of the most memorable is a confrontation with her attorney’s wife Liz Ingram (Viola Davis) where she displays such raw emotion, she’ll leave you shaking.

And Bullock is helped by a veteran cast that adds a lot of support. I’m a big fan of Vincent D’Onofrio, and he’s wonderful as bleeding heart attorney John Ingram who against his better judgement decides to take Ruth’s case. Viola Davis plays his fiery wife Liz, who constantly reminds John that Ruth doesn’t have it as bad as she says she does, that she’s not a victim, and that her case cannot be compared to the black victims who face things far worse. It’s a relevant and true point which adds depth to the story.

It was fun to see Richard Thomas again, here playing Katherine’s adoptive father Michael. It had been so long since I’d seen Thomas in a movie that when I saw him on screen I thought, “that guy looks like Richard Thomas. Wait a minute. That is Richard Thomas!”

Linda Emond is equally as good as Michael’s wife Rachel. Jon Bernthal, another of my favorite actors working today, shows up as Blake, one of Ruth’s co-workers at the fish factory, who takes an obvious liking to Ruth. They start seeing each other, but when Ruth tells him the truth about her past, things change.

Rob Morgan is also really good as Ruth’s parole officer Vincent. And Will Pullen and Tom Guiry are sufficiently slimy as the brothers who want to make Ruth pay for their father’s death.

The screenplay by Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz, and Courtenay Miles tells a story that has the potential to lay things on pretty thick. Woe to the ex-convict, the sister who meant well and who wants to see her sister again. But it doesn’t play out this way. The writing keeps things low key, and the tone of this one fits in exactly with Ruth’s bitter and quiet demeanor. The story feels like one big headache, more than a heartache. Ruth exudes pain, and you can feel it. The story saves its emotional wallops for key scenes, and as a result, it all works. It also helps to have such talented actors anchoring the movie.

The effective screenplay should come as no surprise, as all three of these screenwriters have quality credits to their name. Peter Craig co-wrote the screenplay to the Ben Affleck thriller THE TOWN (2010). Hillary Seitz wrote the screenplay to the superior Christopher Nolan thriller INSOMINIA (2002) which starred Al Pacino, and Courtenay Miles worked on the screenplays to the exceptional Netflix TV show MINDHUNTER (2017-19).

Director Nora Fingscheidt takes advantage of the gloomy Seattle weather to help capture the mood of Ruth’s somber spirit. But Ruth is also a fighter who never gives up, and she proves this time and time again in this movie which is every bit about her determination to reunite with her sister as it is about society’s unforgiving nature towards ex-cons.

Fingscheidt frames Ruth’s story as a woman who is not a victim, but a fighter who is pushing back against a system that isn’t helping her, as well as against society at large, and against a specific threat in two brothers who would like to hurt her viciously and make her pay for her crime above and beyond what the law had deemed necessary and just.

As such, while Ruth is a fighter, she does have that target on her back, and so there is a sense of unease throughout the movie as you know that sooner or later, things are going to prove too much for her.

I was really impressed with THE UNFORGIVABLE, and it had me riveted to the screen throughout. Not a happy movie by any means, but it’s also not a movie that is depressing for the sake of manipulating emotions. It tells the story of a woman who served her time for her crime and only wants to see her sister. She has to struggle through a deplorable living situation, work two jobs, fight through a legal system that doesn’t do her any favors, and fend off those who want to harm her.

But through it all she remains driven and fearless in her attempt to reunite with her younger sister, which is no easy task, because for most people in society, the crime she committed was simply unforgivable.


ENCOUNTER (2021) – Decent Drama, But It’s Not Science Fiction


Let’s talk about truth in advertising.

And let’s talk about it in terms of movies.

ENCOUNTER (2021), a new Amazon original movie, is marketed as a science fiction film. It’s not. At all. And while I realize the filmmakers don’t always have control over how their movie is marketed, in terms of this movie, the false claim was a major distraction throughout. I love science fiction movies and was in the mood to watch one when I sat down to view this film, and so it was a huge letdown when this turned out not to be the case.

That being said, ENCOUNTER is still a pretty darn good drama, which begs the question, why mess with viewers and tell them the film is something it’s not?

ENCOUNTER opens with a montage that made me think of the 1978 version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, as we see images of something crash landing on Earth, and then we watch close-ups of insects ingesting alien microbes, and then insects biting humans, transmitting the alien micro-organisms into the human race. I liked this opening and was looking forward to where this science fiction tale would lead me.

We next meet Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) who’s working for the government, tracking this alien infection, as what is happening is again right out of an INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS movie as the alien microbes are taking over the humans’ bodies. Malik sneaks into the home of his ex-wife in the middle of the night to rescue his two young sons, Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby (Aditya Geddada), and he tells them he is taking them on a special trip. Eventually he does tell them about the aliens, and he says that he is taking them to a safe military base, and then he will return for their mom, who he says has already been infected.

But when he calls this military base, in reality, he’s calling Hattie Hayes (Octavia Spencer), his parole officer. See, in reality, Malik does not work for the government. He’s been in jail. And he’s not “rescuing” his kids. He’s kidnapping them. Of course, in his mind, he really does believe in the alien story. But this movie doesn’t even play up the angle that, is it really aliens, or is it just in his mind? Nope. As soon as Hattie enters the story, it’s as clear as day. Malik is simply messed up, dealing with his own personal demons. There are no aliens. This isn’t a science fiction movie.

The good news is the story that is told here works, mostly because of the performances of the three main players. Riz Ahmed is believable as the dad who is struggling with reality, and who really does want to spend time with his kids. He’s sufficiently unstable and jittery, yet convincing and strong when he says he wants nothing more than to protect his kids. He gets even better later in the film when he acknowledges his struggle with reality.

Even better than Ahmed are the performances of the two young actors, Lucian-River Chauhan as ten year-old Jay, and Aditya Geddada as his younger brother Bobby. Together, they pretty much steal the entire movie.

Octavia Spencer is reduced to a throwaway role as parole officer Hattie Hayes, a role that anyone could play. She doesn’t get to do much at all. Rory Cochrane fares a bit better as the weathered, experienced federal law enforcement officer who is in pursuit of Malik.

ENCOUNTER has its share of tense scenes, from a shoot-out with two adult sons of a man Malik shot and left for dead, to a rather riveting climax which includes a car chase and eventual stand-off, and director Michael Pearce handles all of these sequences well.

The screenplay by director Pearce and Joe Barton isn’t anything special. It’s a straightforward story of a man who kidnaps his children, driven by the desire to spend time with them, and the suspense lies in the knowledge that he’s just unhinged and delusional enough that he could harm them, or worse. The science fiction angle doesn’t really work because it’s dismissed so easily so early in the game, which is too bad because it’s an element of the story that had a lot of potential.

Barton also wrote the screenplay for THE RITUAL (2017), a horror movie from a few years back that I thought was okay but wasn’t all that crazy about.

As a straightforward drama, ENCOUNTER isn’t half bad. The three main players were good enough that I didn’t mind going along for the ride to see where their plight would take them. But it’s not a science fiction movie, which is doubly troubling, because not only is it marketed as one, but the science fiction elements were certainly the most innovate part of this story, and once revealed that they are only the figments of the main character’s troubled mind, the story loses any originality it may have possessed.

It’s not the encounter I expected.


THE POWER OF THE DOG (2021) – Thinking Person’s Western Tackles Themes of Repressed Homosexuality and Loneliness


Back-to-back weeks of Benedict Cumberbatch movies.

Life is good.

Last week I reviewed Cumberbatch in THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN (2021). Today, he’s starring in Netflix’ THE POWER OF THE DOG (2021).

THE POWER OF THE DOG is a thinking person’s movie.

In 1925 Montana, ranchers Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his brother George (Jesse Plemons) with their cowhands visit an eatery run by a widower Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). In the quiet of his room, Peter has made some exquisite paper flowers which his mom decides to use as table decorations. When Phil notices them, he remarks that he’d like to meet the woman who made such flowers, and when Peter says that he made them, the admission irks Phil and he proceeds to be rude and mocking to the boy, so much so, that by night’s end, Peter is trembling, and Rose is in tears.

The next day when George returns to settle the bill, he reaches out to Rose, and soon he’s helping her around the place, and it’s not long after that they get married, a decision which annoys George’s brother Phil, who is alone and looks to his brother for companionship. Loneliness is certainly a theme here. Shortly after they are married, George says to Rose straight out, “I just want to say… how nice it is not to be alone.”

But Phil is alone, and he takes out his frustrations mocking and upsetting Rose and her son Peter every chance he gets. So when he decides seemingly out of the blue to make amends with Peter and form a bond with him, his motives are certainly questionable. And it’s really here that the movie becomes a thinking person’s movie, and it’s also here where I will stop talking about the plot.

The genius of THE POWER OF THE DOG, directed and written by Jane Campion, based on the novel by Thomas Savage, is that the film makes Phil the main character, and the audience largely sees the proceedings through his eyes, and as such, fears what he is capable of doing. But there is more going on here and Campion sneaks it all in, getting things past even the most careful of viewers. Again, the less said about the plot the better, but things aren’t always as they seem.

The theme of repressed homosexuality drives the plot forward. It is at the forefront of the audience’s mind as Phil grows closer to Peter, but once more, there is more going on here.

And while I enjoyed all this, I can’t say I loved this movie. It’s certainly thought-provoking, but it’s also seriously slow-paced, with characters who are often difficult to understand or warm up to, and so its two hours plus running time was often for me anyway labored viewing. I found the whole thing all rather cold.

The best part about it is that it’s not at all what one would expect from this type of story. Early on, it’s easy to think that Phil is going to be this sadistic predator, but he is much more complicated and human than that. This is not an action movie, a film where people achieve their goals through vivid acts of violence, a la a lot of movie westerns. Everything that happens here is calculated and subtle, so subtle you barely see it happening.

Benedict Cumberbatch is cast against type as a hardened western rancher, but he is no less convincing than he always is. As Phil, he is a complicated dark character who knows he is smarter than most and takes pride in the fact that he is a rancher, albeit a rancher with some serious personal demons.

He’s joined by three other outstanding actors who give equally effective performances. Jesse Plemons as George Burbank is practically subtlety personified. At one point Phil tells him it’s almost as if it pains him to say more than one word at a time!

Kirsten Dunst is excellent as Rose Gordon, the woman who surprisingly marries George and then finds herself turning to alcohol to help her cope with his brother Phil.

And in probably the most subtle performance of all, Kodi Smit-McPhee is outstanding as Peter, the character who towards the end of the film appears to be on the verge of being set up as the victim. But appearances here can be deceiving.

Careful viewers can learn all they need to know about the direction of the plot in the opening moments of the film, with a few words from Peter’s voice over narration.

The film’s title, THE POWER OF THE DOG, comes from a Biblical verse, and its meaning also sheds light on what is really happening in the plot of this one.

THE POWER OF THE DOG is by no means a fun movie to watch. It’s not the kind of film you want to see surrounded by friends and lots of popcorn. It is the kind of movie you want to view in quiet surroundings so you can pay attention to everything that is going on.

The film is a study of what people do out of loneliness, and out of devotion to those they love, as well as being a tale of what happens to even the most cautious of people when they let their guard down in the hopes of ending such loneliness.