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I had been anticipating reviewing A24’s The Green Knight for a long, long time. Early on into my writing tenure on this website, I posted an article about the first trailer. That was in February of 2020, just as the world decided to let a plague run rampant. More than a year later, the film has finally arrived.

Did The Green Knight live up to my expectations? Yes, very much so. The Green Knight is my favorite movie of 2021. So if you just want someone to tell you to go see it, then you have your answer. But why is it so good?

Before we continue, take a moment to enjoy the trailer.

The Concept

The theatrical poster for The Green Knight 2021
The triumphant air of the poster may be misleading to some.

The Green Knight (2021) is an adaptation of the classic, anonymously written Arthurian poem “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight.” The film is not necessarily a horror film, but there is horror present with ghosts, impending death, and the unforgiving relentlessness of nature. There are enough arguments one can make to include the film into the horror canon, however. The Green Knight is a film that will challenge most viewers. Perhaps to its detriment when it comes to a general audience. However, it is a challenge worth accepting, much like the Christmas game of the film.

The film’s synopsis is fairly simple: Sir Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, seeks glory. During a Christmas celebration, Arthur challenges his court for a legend or adventure. The Green Knight, a monstrous figure resembling the Green Man, enters and offers a challenge. Anyone may strike a blow against him, but in one year, they must meet him at his Green Chapel so that he may return the blow. Gawain takes on the challenge with a shocking result. As such, he must live up to his end of the challenge, traveling to meet The Green Knight.

The film is the work of writer and director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story), who also takes on editing and producer roles. Dev Patel stars as the tested Sir Gawain, with Ralph Ineson as the titular Green Knight. Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Barry Keoghan, and Erin Kellyman round out the cast. The Green Knight is produced by Ley Line Entertainment, Bron Studios, and Sailor Beat, and distributed by A24.

What Worked with The Green Knight

The overall adaptation of the classic poem is equally faithful and divergent. This fits given the centuries of debate on interpretations of the tale by English theorists and Arthurian scholars. The original poem is subject to many translations, all affected by the translator’s views. Just as a reader will bring their own perspective to the poem, this film is the same in that regard.

David Lowery’s approach to the story definitely creates an underlying message of what it is meant to be seen as chivalrous and the crushing weight of expectations, internal and external. However, the interpretation will vary from viewer to viewer. Like the work of the original Gawain Poet, Lowery’s approach allows for leeway and interpretation.

The performances are fantastic across the cast, but the buzz around Dev Patel’s Gawain is well deserved. Patel’s Gawain is a screw-up. More of a child than a man who expects greatness and desires to be a knight but fumbles about, misunderstanding and misapplying the chivalric code. Patel is instantly likable despite Gawain’s flaws and has a charismatic presence that endears Gawain to the viewers, even at his weakest moments.

A still of Dev Patel holding Excalibur as Gawain from 2021's The Green Knight
Gawain is less the exalted hero and more of the man in over his head.

Ralph Ineson’s commanding presence as The Green Knight is impressive, particularly given the relatively limited screentime he has. Much like Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, Ineson’s appearances are brief but memorable. Sarita Choudhury’s character, the mother of Gawain, presents an interesting deviation from the original tale, but not entirely unwelcome. She plays mysterious well. Alicia Vikander takes on a pair of roles, each vital, and carries them well. Not a poor performance in the lot.

The cinematography of Andrew Droz Palermo is stunning, as is composer Daniel Heart’s Music. This film will be worthy of study in the future.

What Didn’t Work with The Green Knight

As a whole, this film delivers wonderfully. However, there are two aspects of it I found somewhat troublesome. Not troublesome enough to harm my estimation of The Green Knight. But there are areas that I felt could have been reigned in further or perhaps clarified more.

I have no issues with Lowery’s deviations from the “canon” of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” as much as anything regarding the poem can be considered canon. But I do feel in his own quest to make his mark that the film takes a long way around to give Gawain his moment of pure, unselfish chivalry finally. The chapter of the film, each of which is title carded, gives away the trick. While I appreciate Lowery’s narrative move to a degree, knowing the title card of the sequence undercut the potential shock of the sequence. This is rendered starker with the rather brutalist ending that ultimately leaves the film somewhat unresolved.

A still of Dev Patel in royal, Christ-like regalia from 2021's The Green Knight
Gorgeous, iconic imagery abounds but may be subject to personal interpretation.

I try not to carry my expectation of what I consider the tale to be and to go along with Lowery’s take. Yet, I cannot help but think something about the ending is amiss. It may just be my knowledge of the poem that will never let me be completely impartial. But then again, this may also be an issue of interpretation. I wonder if perhaps Lowery went a bit too open-ended? Despite these misgivings, however, as petty as they might be, the film is still very much a triumph. It is a singularly excellent Arthurian adaptation.

The Final Verdict

David Lowery’s medievalthemed rumination of chivalry is a stunning movie that enchants and mystifies. The Green Knight is fully deserving of five out of five Cthuluhs.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The Green Knight is a film I will be seeing in the nearby movie theater at least a couple more times. It is that good and worth experiencing again and unraveling. This may not be the last I write on it, either, because even having seen it, I find myself asking… is Gawain truly heroic?

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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The Last Drive-In Valentine’s Day Special Live Watch Party February 10th!

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The sweet putrid stench of love lingers through the air which can only mean one thing…Valentine’s Day and its annoying little winged cherub, Cupid, is fast approaching. Soon, partners will be spoiling one another with extravagant bouquets of roses, heartfelt Hallmark cards, obnoxiously large teddy bears, glistening diamond jewelry, and heart-shaped candies or boxes filled with assorted mediocre chocolates. You know? Normal things couples do. I tend to prefer my chocolate boxes filled with bleeding hearts, à la ‘My Bloody Valentine’ but, beggars can’t be choosers, right? All jokes aside, Valentine’s Day is special for many couples, however, there are also many others who find themselves celebrating this day without a significant other. Luckily, Shudder, along with drive-in king Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) will graciously be keeping us lonely mutants’, and yes, all you horror fanatic couples’ company on Friday, February 10th as they return with The Last Drive-In Valentine’s Day Special, premiering live at 9pm EST.

Love Spells Abound…

Back in 2021, Joe Bob and Darcy invited us to a gruesomely passionate night of spell-binding love witches and animatronic dinosaurs infused with teenage human brains during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You. Many, including myself, were introduced to the tantalizing 70’s inspired retro throwback ‘The Love Witch’ and the graphically goofy cult classic ‘Tammy and the T-Rex’, providing the perfect viewing pleasure to mend any broken heart. While the two films for this year’s morbid love-induced special have yet to be announced, we here at HauntedMTL are eagerly awaiting the return of the ghoulish duo. As is tradition, we will be proudly hosting a watch party on Twitter during the live broadcasting of The Last Drive-In Valentine’s Day Special. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tag us  @hauntedMTL as well as @shudder@therealjoebob, and @kinky_horror to partake in this night of unholy love.

Drawn image of Joe Bob Briggs pouring  a drop of pink liquid into a clear glass potion bottled filled with a glowing red substance. To his left lies a book a magic spells with a golden pentagram necklace resting on top. Also on the books rests a human skull with heart shaped pupils for eyes hiding behind a pair of clear glasses. In bold white letters a text reads "Join us on February 10th as we live tweet The Last Drive-In Valentine's Day Special".
Follow @hauntedMTL for live tweets and replies!

What started off as a one-time special premiering on Shudder July 13, 2018, ‘The Last Drive- In’ was originally meant to be Brigg’s swan song; one last special before hanging up the bolo tie in retirement. However, due to so many mutants, excuse me…viewers tuning in and breaking the Shudder servers, it was only natural to announce an official full season of ‘The Last Drive-In‘, which would make its explosive debut March 19, 2019. Since then, Darcy and Briggs have spawned many exclusive holiday specials, have graciously donated to many charities within the community, and have accumulated 4 seasons of ‘The Last Drive-In’, with a fifth currently in production premiering on Shudder’s 2023 schedule sometime this year, let’s hope sooner rather than later.

Picture of Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, John Patrick Brennan and Yuki Nakamura standing together dressed in medieval costumes. A cardboard cutout of Tom Atkins stands between Darcy and Yuki. Darcy is seen drapped in a beautfiul elegant princess dress, satin white with gold trim. Yuki is seen holding a small wreath of purple, white, and yellow flowers that match his loud medieval king costume. Resting atop both their heads are golden crowns. Joe Bob Briggs is seen standing to the left of Darcy, as he smiles whilst wearing a half-put together jester costumer. Lastly, we see Brennan with two wooden recorders in his hand as he mimics playing them both dress clad in a bright yellow dress.
An unexpected ceremony during The Last Drive-In: Joe Bob Put a Spell on You (2021) special.

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Movies n TV

Horror Noire, a Film Review

Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”

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Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.

As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.

The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.

Woman and man wearing a vote for candidate shirt, scared of something off screne
Image from “Sundown” Directed by Kimani Ray Smith

What I Like

Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.

My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.

However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.

Woman listening to a preacher amidst a crowd
Image from “Fugue State” directed by Rob Greenlea

What I Dislike

As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.

Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, Silenced

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Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.

Rodney Burford in Dahmer

And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.

Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.

Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship. 

Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.

Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar. 

At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.

Then, of course, things go bad. 

One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.

If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.

This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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