VOD round-up is a weekly feature looking at films being released across video-on-demand platforms.
Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby
Zoomer malaise turns into nerve-wracking comedic thriller material with Shiva Baby, Emma Seligman’s debut feature based on her short film of the same name. Rachel Sennott stars as Danielle, an aimless Jewish 20-something who has been giving her family various alibis for what she’s been doing with her life. What she’s actually been doing is sort of shuffling through college and sleeping with an older man named Max (Danny Deferrari) for money. When she joins her parents (Polly Draper and Fred Melamed) for the shiva of an acquaintance she barely knows, she’s horrified to discover that Max is also in attendance — with a wife and child she was not aware of.
Essentially the Passover sequence from Uncut Gems stretched out to its breaking point, Shiva Baby is an excellent example of where queasy comedy and queasy thriller elements converge. The entirety of Seligman’s film teeters on the brink of an absolute meltdown from more than one of the sources involved, which gives it a commendable propulsive quality. Its roots as a short film are rather evident, however, and the film does appear to tread water in a couple of spots, eventually making way for an exaggerated, Polanski-esque sequence that feels a bit lopsided. But Sennott is extremely compelling and the film succeeds at getting the most out of a rather limited premise, making Shiva Baby a pretty satisfying (albeit stressful) watch.
Shiva Baby is available on VOD now. For more information about the film, please visit its IMDB page. Watch the trailer below:
Shiva Baby directed by Emma Seligman
The Seventh Day
Guy Pearce in The Seventh Day
Guy Pearce plumbs depths of DTV shlock heretofore unknown to him (to the best of my knowledge, anyway) in the hamfisted supernatural horror film The Seventh Day. Pearce plays a world-weary priest (complete with shaky Boston accent and guyliner) who is tasked to take a new recruit (Vadhir Derbez, son of Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez) under his wing and teach him about exorcism. They drive around for a while in something that can only be called “Training Day for exorcists” before eventually making their way to a possessed child.
I must admit this much: the premise of Training Day for exorcists is an irresistible one, but it’s not one that this low-budget, bargain-basement production can really do much with. There are essentially two kinds of scenes in The Seventh Day: scenes where Pearce and Derbez are sitting in a car talking, and scenes of them pacing around an actor in lackluster makeup speaking in tongues. It doesn’t make for much tension or humour or dramatic weight, even if the actors are generally performing a cut above the generic material. It’s a dull, anonymous film visually and one that doesn’t have much character otherwise. Even the off-kilter choices made by Pearce don’t have much of an impact. Let me put it this way: it’s a generic B-movie that almost certainly could not be made better by the presence of Nicolas Cage.
The Seventh Day is available on VOD now. For more information about the film, please visit its IMDB page. Watch the trailer below:
The Seventh Day directed by Justin P. Lange
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