Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Maybe I am showing my age, but I remember when there were only four channels of television. Science-fiction and/or horror shows were low budget affairs that were few and far between making no cultural impact apart from a small cult following if they were lucky. Now we have streaming services dedicated to horror alone giving us original quality programming and Amazon pumps billions of dollars into what is essentially J.R.R. Tolkien fan fiction. This embarrassment of riches has led to a gold rush in streaming services and broadcasters looking for the next big hit. Luckily for ourselves such searching has resulted in some excellent shows that led to some programmes of real quality not making this top ten. The one season wonder ARCHIVE 81 unfairly cancelled by Netflix, and Korean zombie hit ALL OF US ARE DEAD and Apple TV’s excellent alternate space history FOR ALL MANKIND nearly made the cut, just showing the depth and range of the shows that have been included here. Whether or not this wide choice of genre programming will last is anyone’s guess at the moment but for now at least we can celebrate these ten examples, all of which are quite different from each other in their own way.



10- OUTER RANGE – SEASON ONE - Often referred to as a cross between Yellowstone and Twin Peaks, Outer Range was an accomplished piece of genre storytelling that felt original and unpredictable. Starring Josh Brolin as the head of a ranching family at war with another neighbouring family, things soon take a turn with the discovery of a giant black hole appearing on Brolin’s land. What the hole is and does leads to much time hopping and other various events of varying cosmic oddness with plenty of smartly directed cowboy action thrown in. The twists, fantastical turns and often sometimes downright baffling scenes made Outer Range feel quite singular and original, standing out from the pack of programming on its streaming home of Amazon. Streaming on Amazon Prime.


9. CONNECT - It makes you wonder if we are reaching a breaking point in the sheer amount of streaming content available when Takashi Miike, of all people, makes a Korean body horror series for Disney Plus! What once would have seemed like a fairly major event, in cult circles at least, has popped up on the seemingly least compatible streaming service to the prolific director’s often extreme style and no one batted an eyelid. Well worth searching out, this story of a young man running afoul of organ thieves and losing an eye to a serial killer with a taste for corpse art and the wild conflict that ensues as a result carries enough of Miike’s offbeat storytelling style and just enough gnarly imagery which makes you wonder just what is going on in the drama department of Disney Plus to make them greenlight it. Thank Heavens they did though because Connect is a bloodily twisted jolt of fun. Streaming on Disney Plus.



8. GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES - Anthology series are often hit and miss but this six-part series produced and introduced by Guillermo Del Toro, was more successful than most, mainly thanks to the impressive talent hired to bring hand picked stories to the screen. Despite two less than stellar entries here, a couple of interesting Lovecraft adaptations stood out early on but by far the most successful entries were Jennifer Kent’s The Murmuring then The Autopsy, a tale of cosmic invasion discovered in a morgue directed by David Prior. Head and shoulders above these though was Panos Cosmatos’ The Viewing; a hypnotic and visually stunning 70’s set tale of a mysterious gathering at a millionaires mansion. An impressive cast, with a deadpan Peter Weller and comedian Eric Andre proving his dramatic skills, stood out in this hypnotically paced hour that highlighted Cosmatos’ singular storytelling style that has you wishing he could make more films than he gets the chance to. - Streaming on Netflix.


7. HOUSE OF THE DRAGON – SEASON ONE - The first of two-prequel series in the list, this felt slightly redundant when announced. How could it measure up to what is basically the most successful and epic fantasy series ever produced on television? By scaling back and focusing on the struggle for power within the twisted and incestuous House of Targaryen is how. A slow moving first half setting up the complicated family structure of the Targaryen’s and their political dealings as war threatens to break out as a result of the naming of an heir gave way to a full-blooded drama where two wings of the family turn on each other. But with dragons! Mixing soap style family drama with full blown fantasy pays off handsomely here with Matt Smith obliterating all memory of Doctor Who with his portrayal of the scheming and sadistic Prince Daemon and Paddy Considine’s full blooded portrayal of the aging and increasingly frail King Viserys ranking as one of the best performances of the year.  A very promising and well-earned beginning indeed. Streaming on Now TV and Sky.


6. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS – SEASON 4 - Four seasons in and the best vampire mockumentary series currently on our screens shows next to no signs of flagging at all. Picking up the pieces of the fallout of season three we see Nadja trying to get her vampire nightclub of the ground, with all important BLADE inspired blood sprinklers, Nandor employing a djinn in his quest for love and Laszlo struggling with the troubling and mysterious developments that energy vampire Colin Robinson is going through. As ever the whole cast shines, particularly Harvey Gullen as fed-up familiar Guillermo, but Matt Berry, literally the greatest voice of his generation, effortlessly steals the show again, particularly when it comes to his new found love of home renovation shows, paying off in a hilarious piss take of that very thing showing that this is one of the most inventive comedy series around at the minute. Streaming on Disney Plus.



5. ANDOR – SEASON ONE - Personally, I was done with Star Wars. After a sequel trilogy that failed to live up to its potential and a number of spin-off TV series that felt all too eager to dwell on the past it took of all things a prequel to a prequel to get me back on board. Following Diego Luna’s titular character in the years leading up to his fateful Death Star mission, executive producer and writer Tony Gilroy fleshed out the Star Wars galaxy in faithful yet harder edged, exciting new ways. The character-based beats lent a more mature feeling edge to the franchise, taking its time to show Andor’s progression to full on idealistic rebel amongst a cast of new and intriguing characters such as Stellan Skarsgard’s shifty Luthen Rael and bureaucratic villain Syril Karn. The measured pacing paid off with spectacular and exciting set pieces such as a prison break out and the tension filled spark of rebellion against the Empire in the final episode that has one hoping that upcoming Star Wars projects will continue to take their lead from here. - Streaming on Disney Plus.


4. THE KINGDOM EXODUS - Finally! After a quarter of a century, we are finally getting the conclusion to Lars Von Trier’s haunted hospital series that a couple dozen of us watched on late night BBC2 in the late 90’s. Time for everyone else to get on board and catch up with the notorious Danish provocateur in a more playful mood as he goes meta with a sleepwalker literally walking into the fictional hospital after her disappointment with the cliffhanger ending of the original series. Now an intergenerational saga due to the sad passing of some of the original cast, a spiritual war now erupts between the Danish and the Swedish staff as well as an apocalyptic final battle against the forces of Hell itself. Funny as it is creepy and packed with a raft of some surprising cameos, as well as the return of the great Udo Kier, this looks all set to be as satisfying as David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks, although knowing Von Trier to be the wind-up merchant that he is you wouldn’t put it past him to leave us hanging for another twenty-five years after the closing episode set to air this Christmas Day. - All seasons streaming on MUBI.


3. PEACEMAKER – SEASON ONE - John Cena returns to his best role as the near fascistic, chrome-helmeted goofball Peacemaker. For its credit sequence alone, Peacemaker would have earned a spot on the list. With the whole cast taking part in a choreographed dance number to the strains of glorious 80’s hair metal never letting any expression cross their faces it had already filled up its fun and weirdness quota. Spinning off from THE SUICIDE SQUAD, we followed John Cena’s titular “hero” struggling with his past and facing up to his daddy issues with Robert Patrick playing a truly despicable father and villain, while also dealing with a possible alien invasion and over enthusiastic fan/sidekick Vigilante. James Gunn’s love of the more obscure corners of DC Comics pays off with a season of television that stood head and shoulders above the largely populated field of superhero shows with its jet-black humour and outrageous violence that bodes extremely well for Gunn’s caretaker role of the now revamped DC cinematic universe.  Streaming on Now TV and Sky.


2. SEVERANCE – SEASON ONE - There is disconnecting from work once the shift is over then there is Severance. Why someone would undergo the invasive surgical procedure where the employee has no memories of their outside life and vice versa was the main mystery at the heart of this smart, paranoid series. Who would have thought Ben Stiller, one of the shows main producers and directors, would be so at home with this sinister science-fiction, delivering the best directing of his career yet? Slowly revealing its secrets episode by episode this felt of a piece with paranoid 70’s cinema crossed with a healthy dose of black and often absurd humour. Smartly cast with Adam Scott in the lead and Christopher Walken in his best role in years, Severance soon developed into one of the years most thrilling and best seasons of television with a show stopping final episode and an absolute belter of a cliffhanger that ensures season two can’t get here soon enough, even if just to see if we get another Waffle Party. Streaming on Apple TV.



1 – PRIMAL, SEASON TWO - Yes, the best television show of this year, in my own humble opinion, is a cartoon. But Primal is the most violent, bloody, relentless, gripping and exciting cartoon that you are probably not watching. What started as the simple tale of Spear and Fang, a caveman and a dinosaur, roaming a fantastical prehistoric landscape and getting into all sorts of violent escapades with mystical ape-men, zombie dinosaurs and the like expands its scope, developing into a morally complex story of companionship and the spiralling consequences of violence and revenge. This superior season of lightning paced storytelling, mostly without dialogue, carried several moments of thrilling action, high drama, tension and often real beauty; a night-time voyage across the sea in episode two being one example, with the rising stakes for Spear and Fang leading into a shocking and game changing conclusion that will have you desperate to see where season three takes us. Animation legend Genndy Tartakovsky channels the spirit of Robert E. Howard and delivers the finest piece of pure pulp storytelling to be found on screen in years that really should be more celebrated than it is. Get on board now. Both seasons streaming on All4


Iain MacLeod.


This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.


FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.

© 2000 - 2024

Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans