50 articles already you say? Blimey! Where has the time gone? Only a short time at MancMuse with a lot written, it’s safe to say I have definitely had a blast of a year, especially when it comes to cinema (which is where you will find me most weeks – I like to imagine the employees being fed up with seeing my face now). So, as we reach the inevitable end of 2021, I thought for my 50th article that I would go through some of my top picks for films I have seen and reviewed this year (not in a specific order or listing, just ones that have stood out to me).
A word of warning: not all of my positive film reviews are on this list. Otherwise, we’d be here all day (and I doubt you’d want to read a 40-page essay, right?). So, without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the films of 2021 I’ve picked out!
Spiral: From The Book of Saw
Being my first article on this site, as well as the first film I went to see in the cinema this year after everything reopened, Spiral: From the Book of Saw holds a special place in my heart. It’s a Saw film like no other, with a different story that doesn’t heavily rely on John Kramer or his acolytes. With a more diverse crew, an interesting plotline and some pretty gnarly kills (I still squirm over the tongue one) Spiral is one of the best horrors from this year’s variety.
A Quiet Place Part II
An incredibly chilling and intense carry on from its predecessor, A Quiet Place Part II proves once again that even silence can be terrifying. John Krasinski definitely knows how to crank up the scares and intensity, as well as the introduction to locations that are outside of the original film, and introducing some interesting and important characters. With how it ends, it’s safe to say that when part 3 (hopefully) comes round, our characters will have a fighting chance against the sound-sensitive monsters (which, by the way, you get to see a lot more of and they are equally as frightening as I remember them to be).
Cruella de Vil, Cruella de Vil, If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will! When MancMuse reached 100 articles, I decided to be very meta and make sure that Cruella was the 101st article (because a 101 Dalmatians connection was very much needed!) This film is also sort of chaotic good, and for a Disney film, it’s really gritty yet fantabulous. Emma Stone as Cruella is probably one of the best acting choices I have seen.
Though people may question if this is sympathising with a dog skinning maniac, there is no animal cruelty of any kind in this film – so don’t worry about letting your children watch it, the only thing they’ll be shocked at is the marvellous array of outfits! The film takes a lot of pretty interesting influences and stitches them together to make a fashionably fun flick that transports you back to the ’80s.
Move over John Wick, this suburban dad is the new sheriff in town! Bob Urdak stars in Nobody, an adrenaline-junkie flick, portraying an ex auditor trying to live a normal life. Of course, things turn sour and his family is endangered, rightfully pissing him off and bringing out his brutal side. Bob Urdak is a one-man army with some serious trigger happy issues; his choreography and performance are absolutely brilliant, and whilst his more comedic side remains (his inner Saul Goodman coming out) he is absolutely brutal. This is a fun, fast-paced flick that fills the void between having watched everything & not having anything to watch – it’s a great collection of sequences that rain bullets and blood onto the screen to bring you some pretty satisfying ass kicking.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
As thrilling and daring as its original counterpart, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions serves as a great sequel with some twists that are actually surprising, all things considered. It’s a great introduction into the genre of death game films, without being too bloody or violent, and instead relying on some intriguing room designs and satisfying mechanisms. ‘Bigger, Better, Bolder’ is the motto for this movie, and it certainly keeps its promise.
The Suicide Squad
Forget about calling in the Justice League for a potential worldwide threat, Task Force X is at your service (well, until they are murdered one by one). James Gunn does a fantastic job bringing lesser-known characters to screen, so this film was rather fitting to see him direct. With the right blend of comedy, action and WTF moments, The Suicide Squad is by far the most graphic DC film to date, as well as having characters that are dying to save the world, even if it means “Suicide”.
The Night House
One of the more metaphorical and unusual supernatural horrors of this yet, The Night House is one of those films that I appreciate for being sophisticated yet simple at the same time, diverting away from the standard haunted house trope. This film seriously got my brain working like clockwork trying to understand it all. Even now looking back at the film, some of the smaller details or lines make me appreciate the simplicity and subtlety of the story.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
A Kung Fu film that stirs away from your stereotypical western martial arts film, and embraces the Chinese culture and foundation on which it is based. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a Marvel movie that’s refreshing, exciting and action-packed. Saying ‘absolutely amazing’ doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. There’s so much going on and so many things to explore whilst also remaining understandable and fresh, this movie simply works. It’s brave and daring, exploring an area that hasn’t been done before in superhero history; and Marvel not only pulls it off, they fully exceed expectations!
Never have I been so physically squirm-ish at a film more than I have with Malignant, and whilst it is a little slow, it makes up for with some downright disturbing content. Murder mystery horror isn’t complete without, well, murderous violence of course! And as one of director James Wan’s darker film, it certainly provides more than enough bloodshed for everyone to enjoy be surprised at (to the point you’ll have your mouth open wide in the shape of an ‘O’ surprised).
Hey, if people can start watching Christmas films during Halloween, I can recommend a Halloween film for Christmas, right? Everyone’s pretty much familiar with Michael Myers and his fame for being a stone-cold-blooded killer behind a painted William Shatner mask. But Halloween Kills gives us that little bit more of an insight into the story of Michael Myers, as well as proving why he is still one of the most iconic movie antagonists to date. Halloween Kills are all the things I wanted in this new generation of slasher films, and the body count certainly racks up ridiculously high as it should (earning its title may I add, because it certainly does kill!). Michael Myers has never been more frightening and haunting than this!
Nothing is more terrifying than being hunted down by a very tall and spiky reindeer man cannibal thing, and this film certainly is that. One of the more anticipated films on my watch list this year that I watched back to back with Last Night in SoHo (which we’ll get to in a minute), Antlers is all sorts of gory goodness and creature features. From director & monster-effects master Guillermo del Toro, this is a fun short yet sweet horror to satisfy your hunger for on-screen graphics, indigenous folklore and isolated town aesthetics (just don’t get too hungry and turn into a wendigo okay?).
Last Night in SoHo
What can I say? Edgar Wright does it again with another British classic, filled with all the right pieces of music, love, lust, and a murder mystery. Quite the direction from his more comedic material, Last Night in Soho is cleverly crafted, with some very clever twists and turns in his cinematic experience, as well as, of course, the story, cinematography, characters and the music being spot on as always. Matt Smith and Anna Joy Taylor are in this too, which is an absolute treat! They really flesh out their characters in the most sinister yet charming ways possible. McKenzie Thomas as our protagonist is something I never thought I needed: a misunderstood young individual trying to piece the puzzles together from the glimpses of the past – it’s really powerful.
What’s next on my MancMuse Journey?
Phew! What a list, eh? Though I cannot hide the fact a lot of it is horror (I promise I’m trying to branch out, don’t judge me) each film has been great and being able to express my feelings and thoughts on them with MancMuse is amazing. As for what is next? Most likely more reviews, and not just movie ones: theatre, music, a bit of food planned – safe to say 2022 is going to be a busy year!
So, fancy having a read of some of my film articles then? You’re in luck! Check out my most recent review on Ghostbusters: Afterlife; the threequel that fans have been waiting for years for – a family-friendly reintroduction to everything Ghostbusters, with a new generation of busters and an old threat. This is a movie that not only honours the originals but also builds upon them and gives us a farewell to the beloved Harold Ramis. Alternatively, have a look at some from other reviews such as Eternals (which I was mixed feelings on – best read it to find out more) and Spencer (in which Kristen Stewart absolutely nails the role of the Princess of Wales, her mannerisms spot on and her portrayal terrifyingly real!).
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