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Sean Woodard

Mary and the Witch's Flower

Studio Ponoc continues Studio Ghibli’s legacy with its debut animated feature, Mary and the Witch’s Flower. Magical and goodhearted, this simple film should entertain children and adults alike. When young Mary discovers a mysterious flower, granting her limited magical powers, she is transported to a school for witchcraft where she soon learns everything is not as it seems. My main concern lies in the film’s animation choices—I’m surprised how Westernized everything looks; and yet, this look is faithful to its source material, Mary Stewart’s The Little Broomstick. That aside, this delightful film proves Studio Ponoc is here to stay. 

The Midnight Man

“The Midnight Man doesn’t like to lose,” warns Robert Englund in IFC Midnight’s latest release. In fact, he loves to cheat—the film leaves audiences feeling cheated, too. Devoid of sense and thrills, the film is a mess. Its premise is simple: dumbass teenagers must survive an urban legend which preys on their fears when they play a game found in the attic. Lin Shaye and Robert Englund—the film’s powerhouse draw—can’t save the material, even though they give their all. Aside from an eerie prologue, The Midnight Man fails to conjure a good reason to finish this game.

Mom and Dad

Four words: Nicolas Cage on OVERDRIVE! Destined to be a cult classic, this irreverent Shaun of the Dead meets Parenthood mash-up starts with a bang and doesn’t let up. When unexplained events cause parents to turn on their children, the results are equally horrifying and laugh-out-loud funny—it’s a good sign when the audience around you is vocally invested in the onscreen carnage and hilarity. Although flashback scenes hinder the pacing, seeing Nic Cage sledgehammer a pool table to oblivion while screaming “The Hokey-Pokey” is worth the price of admission alone. But wait until the grandparents arrive . . .