Ana Lily Amirpour’s third feature film is in some ways an amalgamation of her first two: the striking A Girl Walks Home Alone at Midnight and the frustratingly uneven The Bad Batch. When it comes to protagonists, Amirpour certainly has a type: strong, laconic women — survivors in a strange world. Blood Moon follows Mona over a several nights after she escapes a mental institution and finds herself in New Orleans. Louisiana may be my second home but this version of the city is unrecognisable — an oversaturated hyper-reality that seems to exist almost entirely by night (actually that part might be accurate). Mona’s overpowered mind control is revealed in the opening scene, meaning that the audience is never really concerned for her safety, driven more by a morbid curiosity as to how much havoc she will wreak. Since she barely speaks, the void is filled by a handful of colourful supporting characters, most notably Kate Hudson’s avericious stripper and Ed Skrein’s sensitive dealer. Amirpour’s writing retains the ability to surprise, with humour derived from absurdity, like a low-speed chase between a cop in a leg brace and a stripper shuffling in platform heels. From these ingredients, Blood Moon’s concoction is an improvement over the The Bad Batch but is still style over substance.
“A huge earthquake happens, who do they rescue first? Actors. They’ll rescue Clooney, Sandra Bullock, me. If there’s room, you guys will come.”
If Ocean’s 12 was an excuse for Clooney and his actor friends to hang out at his Lake Como villa, This Is The End dispenses with the pretence entirely as Seth Rogan, James Franco and friends play themselves riding out the apocalypse at Franco’s house. The main cast toy with their public perception, though the film’s best conceit is the suggestion that, if the Rapture were to occur, no one at a Hollywood house party would notice. Most of the cameos are fun but forgettable, the standouts being those who play against type — a shameless Michael Cera and a violent Emma Watson. One imagines the general lack of female presence is a product of the fraternal nature of the friendship group behind This Is The End, but the near total absence of women is disappointing and to its detriment. The script is peppered with hilarity and entertaining moments strung together by lazy writing and tired gross-out humour. Comedies like this typically lose traction the longer they run but, despite frequently lagging in the middle and perhaps aided by a wafer-thin plot which requires little conclusion, the film closes surprisingly strongly, leaving a better overall impression than I would have expected halfway through.