The Ones You Didn’t Burn
★★★★ out of ★★★★★
This hypnotic take on generational and familial horror offers plenty of dread and drama as it unfolds its occult story.
Directed by Elise Finnerty
Elise Finnerty turns in a marvelous feature-film debut as a writer/director with The Ones You Didn’t Burn (U.S., 2022), which successfully tackles a variety of social and psychological issues in 77 minutes, all the while building up in supernatural suspense. Opening with the Thoreau quote, “I believe men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung,” the film may tip off to where it is ultimately headed, but how it gets there is a highly impressive journey. Siblings recovering addict Nathan (Nathan Wallace) and business-minded Mirra (Jenna Sander) are in a fractured relationship, reunited by their father’s suicide and the need to handle the affairs involved with his death. While Nathan slides back into his addictions after meeting up with porn-addicted misogynist loser friend Greg (Samuel Dunning), Mirra befriends her father’s farmhands Alice (Finnerty) and her sister Scarlett (Estelle Girard Parks). Most locals were none too fond of the deceased father, as his ancestors had the reputation of stealing the land the family owned and the locals’ family members were often employed on the farm. Secrets from the past turn up, as they will in horror films, and as Nathan is plagued by nightmares about a woman coming out of the sea. All elements of The Ones You Didn’t Burn are admirable, from the terrific acting by the ensemble cast members to the splendid cinematography by Brett Phillips to the fitting score by Daniel Reguera. Finnerty’s screenplay is smartly paced, skillfully balancing the drama of family, addiction, generational injustice, and misogyny with the horror elements, and she directs with flair, investing the film with an inescapable brooding atmosphere. One of the most captivating directorial debuts of the year, The Ones You Didn’t Burn is highly recommended.
The Ghosts of Monday
★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
This hotel horror serves up all the supernatural insanity you would expect and more, while adding a helping of giallo for good measure.
Directed by Francesco Cinquemani
Prolific director Francesco Cinquemani’s The Ghosts of Monday (Cyprus, 2022) blends occult and giallo elements in this story of a television crew investigating a reputedly haunted hotel in Cyprus which was, until recently, abandoned after a tragedy occurred that saw the death of about 100 people. Paranormal TV series director Eric (Mike Huberman) blows his top when show host Bruce (Julian Sands) suggests they insert fake ghost footage to spice up the series. Meanwhile, Eric’s ex-wife and Bruce’s daughter Sofia (Marianna Rosset), who is originally from Cyprus, begins acting strangely and is wary of the couple (portrayed by Anthony Skordi and Maria Ioannou) who have purchased the hotel to reopen it. Strange noises and sights occur as the crew is put up in the otherwise empty hotel, and then the body count involving crew members begins with a marvelously choreographed and shot giallo-influenced knife attack in a glass elevator. The proceedings go from weird to weirder in this great-looking hotel horror outing, which telegraphs its mystery a bit early on but still succeeds in keeping things entertaining and suspenseful throughout, with some unexpected surprises.
The Ghosts of Monday will receive a UK release on September 5th from Reel2Reel. A U.S. release is expected during Q1 2023.
Reviews by Joseph Perry
The Ones You Didn’t Burn and The Ghosts of Monday screened as part of Arrow Video FrightFest, which took place in London, UK from August 11–August 22, 2022. For more information, visit https://www.frightfest.co.uk/.