BY BILLY SUTER
DAYS after wrapping the critically acclaimed Pete’s Dragon remake for The Walt Disney Company in 2016, writer-director David Lowery was already immersed in his next project – an independently produced, micro-budget ghost story set in his native Texas.
It was Ghost Story, a thriller starring Oscar-winner Casey Affleck as a recently deceased man, now a ghost shrouded in a white sheet. Oscar-nominee Rooney Mara plays his grieving widow.
Great news for subscribers to South African internet TV service Showmax, which is now available in more than 70 countries, is that the film is soon to be added to the schedule in time for Halloween, coming first and only to Showmax on October 18.
After premiering at America’s Sundance Film Festival, A Ghost Story won 11 international awards and was named one of the top 10 independent films last year by the National Board of Review in America.
Lowery cites the suburban photographs of Gregory Crewdson and the slow-cinema masterworks of Asian director Tsai Ming-Liang (Stray Dogs) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) as key inspirations for A Ghost Story.
Rolling Stone hailed the film as “one of the most moving films of the year… Hypnotic and haunting… You’ve never seen anything like it.”
Vanity Fair echoed this, calling it “strange and thrilling… like nothing you’ve ever seen” .
And Variety wrote, “While Lowery’s actual method of delivery may not be scary, it’s sure to haunt those who open themselves up to the experience”.
Currently on Showmax, and a good one to watch over Halloween, is the acclaimed, frightening Raw, a film that shocked at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, winning the FIPRESCI Critics Prize. It then became the talk of Toronto, where audiences reportedly walked out, threw up and fainted.
The no-under-18 horror movie went on to win 16 more awards for 30-something French writer-director Julia Ducournau. It was the fourth highest-ranked foreign film and the fifth highest-ranked first feature in Indiewire’s Critics Poll last year.
Garance Marillier stars as Justine, a brilliant 16-year-old student starting out at veterinary school. Everyone in Justine[s family is a vet. And a vegetarian.
After Justine is forced to eat raw meat for the first time as part of a first-year hazing routine, she starts to explore the pleasures of the flesh – in all its forms.
At Cannes, the FIPRESCI jury hailed Raw as “an impressive debut with a strong visual language. The director tells a dark coming-of-age story and uses themes from horror movies to express the solitude and sexual awakening of a troubled teenage girl”.
The New York Times described it as the story of “a scared teenager with the world’s worst eating disorder”; Screen Daily called it “a feminist take on body horror”; Indiewirelabelled it ”David Cronenberg for teen feminists”; and Rolling Stonehailed it “a modern horror masterpiece… a clever feminist parable – and a contender for best horror movie for the decade.”
Having been a longtime DStv viewer who said goodbye to the service recently, what a massive pleasure to discover Showmax as a much cheaper and more interesting replacement. It costs only R99 a month to subscribe, plus one gets a two-week free viewing window before billing starts, and one can cancel at any time as there are no contracts. What a pleasure.
It is an internet TV service that is well worth checking out if you haven’t already done so. Viewers get access to a huge online catalogue of TV shows, movies, kids’ shows and documentaries – including newer series such as Westworld, Jamestown, The Durrells, The Handmaid’s Tale, Vikings and older classics such as Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Call the Midwife, Sex and the City, Friends, Frasier and – thanks, but no thanks – nearly every season of The Kardashians.
Children are also well-catered for, plenty of fine documentaries and movies are on offer, and there is also a very varied programme of local content available.
Stream Showmax using apps for smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, computers and media players. Showmax also works with Chromecast and AirPlay. Manage data consumption using the bandwidth capping feature. No internet? No problem – download up to 25 shows to smartphones and tablets to watch later offline.
Showmax was born in 2015 and is part of the Naspers group. For a free, no-risk trial, visit www.showmax.com.