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7 International Shows to Stream on Showmax Right Now

Midsommar, Pinocchio, Freaky to Run and more.

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Fans of a good series (everyone who messes around this site, to be honest) have a lot to look forward to this summer. Succession debuts in October, with a gripping trailer showcasing simmering temperatures in the media dynasty’s internal rivalries. The series has aired its two previous seasons on M-Net and Showmax, so we are keeping an eye. Sex Education season 3 is landing on Netflix next month, the final season of Money Heist lands this Friday, and Blood & Water is also on its way September 24th.

In between some of the faves, there’s more for you to sink your teeth into on Showmax. Discover some of these great finds and see what’s worth a binging on this month.

MIDSOMMAR | Folk horror

In Midsommar, a troubled couple travels to a rural Swedish town’s fabled midsummer festival, but what begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Oscar nominee Florence Pugh (Little WomenBlack Widow) stars alongside the likes of Sundance Special Jury Prize winner Jack Reynor (What Richard DidStrange Angel) and Emmy nominee William Jackson Harper (The Underground RailroadThe Good Place).

Written and directed by multi-award-winning director Ari Aster (Hereditary), Midsommar won five 2020 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, including Best Wide-Release Film, and 21 other accolades around the world.  “If you’re looking for the scariest movie ever shot in blinding sunlight, the raw and riveting Midsommar is it,” says Rolling Stone.

Midsommar has an 83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Ambitious, impressively crafted, and above all unsettling, Midsommar further proves writer-director Ari Aster is a horror auteur to be reckoned with.”

PINOCCHIO | Fairy tale

Pinocchio, based on the beloved fairy tale by Carlo Collodi, stars Oscar winner Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) as the old woodcarver Geppetto, whose puppet creation, Pinocchio (newcomer Federico Ielapi), magically comes to life. Naive and curious, Pinocchio tumbles from one misadventure to the next as he is tricked, kidnapped and chased by bandits on his quest to become a real boy.

Directed by BAFTA winner Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah)Pinocchio was nominated for two 2021 Oscars, for its costume design and makeup and hairstyling. It’s also won 19 awards around the world and holds an 83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus reads, “Sticking closely to Carlo Collodi’s original story, Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio pulls every string to create a visually stunning film that proves some tales really are timeless.”

As with so many fairy tales, although it’s based on a children’s novel, Pinocchio can be unsettling and dark at times. Now dubbed into English, Pinocchio is recommended for ages 10+ by Common Sense Media.

FREAKY | Horror

Slasher comedy Freaky takes Freaky Friday to a whole new level when less-than-popular teenager Millie unintentionally switches bodies with the middle-aged serial killer terrorising her town. As the body count rises and the clock ticks down, Millie and her friends have less than 24 hours to stop Murder Barbie before the change becomes permanent…

Starring Young Artist Award winner Kathryn Newton (Big Little LiesThe Society) and MTV Movie Award, People’s Choice and Teen Choice winner Vince Vaughn (Wedding CrashersThe Break-Up), Freaky’s cast also includes Alan Ruck (SuccessionFerris Bueller’s Day Off).

Vaughn won Best Actor in a Horror Movie at the 2021 Critics’ Choice Super Awards, where Freaky was also up for Best Horror Movie and Newton was nominated for both Best Actress in a Horror Movie and Best Villain. Freaky also picked up nominations from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Horror Film, the Fright Meter Awards for Best Actress (Newton) and the MTV Movie Awards for Most Frightened Performance (Vaughn).

Produced by triple-Oscar nominee Jason Blum (Get OutBlacKkKlansman) and directed by Christopher Landon (who directed Happy Death Day and wrote four of the Paranormal Activity films), Freaky has an 83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with AV Club saying there’s “something oddly satisfying about unmasking a slasher movie to reveal the ’80s comedy lurking underneath.” As Slate says, “As strange as it may sound, Freaky is one of the 2020 movies that comes closest to being truly feel-good.”

RUN | Thriller, from 23 August

Psychological thriller Run stars Emmy and Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (RatchedAmerican Horror Story12 Years a SlaveMrs. America) and introduces Kiera Allen as a homeschooled, wheelchair-bound teenager who begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.

The first female wheelchair-using actress to star in a suspense film since 1948, Allen won the 2021 Spotlight Award from the Hollywood Critics Association, with Paulson nominated for Best Actress at the 2020 Fright Meter Awards.

Written and directed by Aneesh Chaganty (Sundance Film Festival award winner for Searching) and co-written and produced by Sev Ohanian (who exec produced Judas and the Black Messiah), Run broke records to become Hulu’s most successful original film on its release late last year.

Run has an 88% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Hollywood Reporter saying, “Dueling excellent performances from a deranged Sarah Paulson and spunky newcomer Kiera Allen make it hard to look away from the screen, not that the pacing of Chaganty and Sev Ohanian’s script allows much opportunity for distraction.”

WAR WITH GRANDPA | Family comedy

Peter and his grandpa used to be very close, but when Grandpa Jack moves in with the family, Peter is forced to give up his most prized possession: his bedroom. Peter will stop at nothing to get his room back, scheming with friends to devise a series of pranks to drive his grandpa out. However, grandpa doesn’t give up easily, and it turns into an all-out war between the two.

The 40th biggest box office hit of 2020 globally, War With Grandpa stars Oscar winner Robert De Niro, Oscar nominee Uma Thurman, and rising child star and Young Artist Award nominee Oakes Fegley (Pete’s DragonWonderstruck), as well as Oscar winner Christopher Walken, Emmy winner Jane Seymour and multi-award-winner Cheech Marin.

War With Grandpa is recommended for ages 8+ by Common Sense Media, where they praise De Niro’s “charming performance” and say, “This impish comedy brings the whole family together with a nod to appreciating their elders just a little more.”

BECKY | Horror, from 26 August

In Becky, a teenager’s weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives.

Lulu Wilson (Sharp ObjectsThe Haunting of Hill House) shines in the title role, with Emmy nominee Kevin James (The King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop) playing against type as the neo-Nazi villain. Emmy nominee Joel McHale (CommunityDeliver Us From Evil) co-stars.

Variety calls this, “lean, mean, nasty fun that will appeal to genre fans with hard-edged tastes” while The Globe and Mail says, “This is near-perfect slimeball cinema – a welcome kick to the head that should also reinvent James’s career.”

BLADE (BOXSET) | Action

Calling all Blade fans – Marvel just gave us awesome news: production is due to start next year on the revival of Blade, with double Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Green BookTrue DetectiveRamy) as the iconic vampire hunter.

So what better way to celebrate than a weekend binge with Wesley Snipes in the cult comic book trilogy BladeBlade II, and Blade: Trinity, all written by David S. Goyer (The Dark KnightBatman BeginsDark City), who directed the third instalment.

The franchise grossed over $400million worldwide, with double Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of WaterPan’s Labyrinth) helming the sequel and a supporting cast across the series that includes Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, Emmy nominee Jessica Biel (The Sinner), Oscar nominee and Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner Kris Kristofferson, Hellboy star Ron Perlman, The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus, and Dominic Purcell (Legends of TomorrowPrison Break).

 

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Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed

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We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.

When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.

A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.

The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.

This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.

Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.

Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.

After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.

Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.

In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.

After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.

Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.

THE ENDING

Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.

Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.

In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?

Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.

We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.

What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.

We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.

Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.

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First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’

DRACARYS!

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Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.

The House of Dragon

Photo Credit: HBO via Twitter

First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe,  the world ready to let old baggage go.

The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.

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Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it

‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.

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The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.

While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.

Midnight Mass

“The LORD’s angel”‘s life giving blood comes scams locals into horrible mistakes on Midnight Mass.

When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.

With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.

It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.

We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.

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