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Your Voice: A Student Publication


Your Voice: A Student Publication


Eclectic 2023 Movie Review


This is my very quick two-cents on a few movies that came out last year. Feel free to disagree with me on anything besides Saltburn. I stand my ground.

Saltburn (2023)

Genre: Thriller/Comedy


Oxford student Oliver (Barry Keoghan), who’s presented as living in rather unfortunate familial conditions, befriends and becomes infatuated with fellow student Felix (Jacob Elordi). Felix takes him in for refuge to stay at his wealthy family estate for the summer. Soon, things go awry, and it’s revealed that Oliver has fabricated much of his sympathetic sob-story, and his manipulations slowly boil over during the summer spent on the Saltburn estate.


The first half of Saltburn had me hooked. The actors did a phenomenal job setting up an interesting story about obsession, disillusionment, and jealousy. Not only that, but the shots of the Saltburn estate were absolutely gorgeous and set the scene of grandeur excellently. I enjoyed the plot twist about Oliver’s plan to wheedle his way into becoming a socialite, and the movie was set up to be an interesting critique on elitism and wealthy society.

Then, the rest of the movie following the halfway mark was absolutely traumatic. Provocative seems like an understatement, and I do not buy for a second that anyone believes this movie to be “not that bad.” The constant need to disturb the audience was just exhausted shock value, and I couldn’t stop asking myself “why” through squeamish glances at my screen. Saltburn made a complete 180 from being compelling and unique to being completely self-indulgent and neurotic, probably leaving me post traumatic Saltburn disorder. It was completely disturbing, without any real reason except Oliver’s apparent sociopathy, and if that’s all Saltburn has to offer, I think it’s pretty sick. Sickening, that is. I’m a little scared of people who openly love this movie. There is a fine line between thrillers that leave you with a disturbed thrill, and nonsensical B.S. that leaves its viewers asking only “what the F did I just watch”. The production value and Jacob Elordi’s charm have yet to redeem this movie for me, unless someone on the production team is willing to pay my therapy bill. The only thing worse than actually watching Saltburn is learning that your parents thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating: 2/10 (one point for shots of the pretty English countryside, and one point for Jacob Elordi being attractive.)

Late Night with the Devil (2023)

Genre: Horror/Comedy


Taking place in the late seventies during the height of the satanic panic, struggling talk show host Jack Delroy creates a ploy to save his show: a halloween special, full of psychic power, disbelief, and demons that ultimately unleash evil into the living rooms of America.


Firstly, I want to quickly touch upon a common critique I’ve heard of this film, which is that it used AI to generate some of the cut-away title cards used in the talk show. While I found this pretty disappointing and wish an artist was commissioned instead to create those images, I’ll save that grievance for another conversation and instead talk solely about the merit of the film.

I’m a very hard-to-please horror fan, because I think most of the tropes are exhausted and not scary, but I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I loved the concept of telling a narrative through a late night talk show, so you’re watching the film through the perspective of a viewer who switched on their TV to watch the show. I thought the horror was incredibly well-balanced with the commentary about TV commercialism and Jack Delroy being corrupted by his desire for views and notoriety. The show itself felt very authentic to the time period it was representing (I say as someone born in 2005), and Jack Delroy was presented as a charismatic, charming, yet complex character whose personality and motivations can be understood on and off the show. 

The horror was also genuinely freaky, and I felt the suspense build throughout the whole film. I am a lover of the grotesque (if it’s done appropriately), and Late Night with the Devil did not disappoint. There was exorcist-like projectile vomiting, worms bursting out of people’s skin, and one VERY creepy demon-possessed girl, all the makings of a great horror film. Without spoiling the ending too much, I thought the horror aspect fell short at the climax, and the horror went from being creepy, to actually unbelievable. However, that might just be my preference, as I like my disbelief to be suspended reasonably. The ending was predictable, but appropriate in order to round out the story. I left the theater quite satisfied, and more than a little spooked.

Rating: 8/10

Knock at The Cabin (2023)

Genre: Horror/Mystery


While on vacation in a secluded cabin, a girl and her parents are taken hostage by four armed intruders who insist they must choose someone in the family to sacrifice in order to prevent the apocalypse. 


The advertisement of this movie as a mystery is very false. I fear this movie has fallen into the category of “we don’t trust our viewers, so we’ll dedicate a scene where the entire movie is explained directly to the camera and nobody has to use any deductive reasoning or put any work into interpretation.” The story was driven by the question of if the apocalypse (that the main characters were being posed to prevent) was actually real, but pretty quickly the movie gave us that answer without leaving much room for question or suspense. I’m not even sure if a movie with one jump scare and no real suspense can be considered as horror either.

That being said, I didn’t hate this film by any means. I thought the concept was interesting, especially since the family’s captors were empathetic, and the hostage situation wasn’t as violent and sinister as a lot of home invasion horror movies. The movie features a gay couple, and I did find that the movie seemed a little like a forced statement about being homosexual. I wish the couple could just have been represented simply as a gay couple, without it feeling contrived. I wish queerness in TV was treated as a normally occurring thing when it’s not the focal point of the movie. Even though it’s made pretty obvious from the start what’s going to happen, I wasn’t ever bored watching this movie. It’s a good movie to unwind with on a Saturday night.

Sort of spoilers for the next part: I wish the apocalypse was never a real threat, or some shared delusion by the captors. I would have liked to have been a little caught off guard instead of the movie playing out exactly as expected, and if that was revealed after the family made their sacrifice, I would have been left with much stronger feelings about the movie. Similarly, if the family made their sacrifice, and then it was revealed that they didn’t do it in time to stop the apocalypse, it would have been much better fitted as a horror movie. Regardless, it was an enjoyable watch, and I have no real complaints. I guess you can’t expect excellence from everything.

Rating: 5.5/10

Parting thoughts: Discovering that the grave scene in Saltburn wasn’t scripted ruined my year. I wouldn’t wish watching Saltburn on my worst enemy.

Photo by Myke Simon on Unsplash

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