Horror fans will want to check out writer-director Robert Eggers’ debut film. Filmed in Northern Ontario, The Witch is set in the 17th century and is about a Puritan family living in the New England wilderness. Soon after their infant son disappears, their daughter is suspected of witchcraft and the family starts to fall apart in the face of an unknown evil. The Witch has been getting acclaim, starting with the Sundance Film Festival last year, and currently holds an 86 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, calling it “visually compelling” and “a deeply unsettling exercise in slow-building horror.”
Risen is a biblical epic that is being described as the sequel to The Passion of the Christ. Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) stars as Clavius, a powerful Roman military tribune who, with his aide Lucius (Tom Felton), is tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion in order to disprove the rumours of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem. Jesus is played by New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis (Fear of the Walking Dead) and some may recognize Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies.
Risen is co-written and directed by Kevin Reynolds, whose career had been pronounced dead and was then resurrected, just like the subject of his latest movie. Reynolds’ debut was 1985’s Fandango featuring the first starring role of Kevin Costner. Steven Spielberg helped produce it and then subsequently took his name off it, considering it disappointing. Even though critics were friendly to Fandango, it was a bomb, but has developed a cult following. Its biggest supporter has been Quentin Tarantino, calling it one of the best directorial debuts in the history of cinema.
It was his subsequent collaborations with Kevin Costner that have brought some career highlights and his subsequent downfall and then his eventual resurrection. Reynolds worked as an uncredited second unit director on Costner’s Dances with Wolves and then directed him in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Costner produced Reynolds’ next film, the box office disaster Rapa Nui but it was their next collaboration that put their friendship to the test. The movie was Waterworld and it is rumoured that the two Kevins had a huge fight over the film resulting in Reynolds leaving the project and leaving Costner to finish it. Even though Waterworld was considered the most expensive bomb at the time, it eventually made its money back and has a cult following.
However, Reynolds’ career was not completely dead and a few years later he directed the poorly received One Eight Seven starring Samuel L. Jackson and then bounced back to moderate success with The Count of Monte Cristo (one of my favourites) starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce.
But it was the feud between the Hatfields & McCoys that brought the Kevins back together to great acclaim. Reynolds directed Costner in the miniseries for the History Channel, which became the top-rated telecast ever for ad-supported basic cable and was nominated for 16 Emmy awards, winning five, including one for each of the Kevins.