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Olivia Holt on Finale Theories and Why Kate Isn’t a Mean Girl

The Freeform psychological mystery Cruel Summer follows two young women – Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt), the popular girl who others look up to, and Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia), the nerdy girl who dreams of being popular – and what happens to the life of the latter when the former goes missing. Set over the summer in 1993, 1994 and 1995, the story’s shifting points of view change the perception of events, as more and more questions arise about who Kate and Jeanette really are.

During a virtual junket to promote the new series, Holt spoke to Collider for this 1-on-1 interview about what most excited her about this project, establishing the different versions of her character, her reaction to the season finale, why she didn’t want to read the last script, whether she feels any closure for her last series Cloak and Dagger, and how her love of acting developed.

Collider: When this came your way, what was it that most excited you about it and what did you think would be most challenging?

OLIVIA HOLT: I just really fell in love with every single aspect of it. I read the first two episodes before I got the part and I was just so drawn in. I was captivated by every single scene and all of the characters and how many layers there are to each character. I was drawn in from the first script and so grateful to be part of this show and this sort of storytelling because it is really unique.

Did it really help you get a sense of what this show would be, with those two episodes you got to read?

HOLT: 1000%. I was really nervous because it is a very specific way of storytelling with the two different perspectives. I was nervous to see how the rest of the season would evolve, but it is just so interesting. I was really lucky to read those first two scripts because it really gave me an idea of how the tone and how the story was gonna play out.

Andrea Anders and Olivia Holt in Cruel Summer

Image via Freeform

Does it feel really different and unusual to tell such an important story, when it comes to the relationship between these two girls, but then not share very much screen time together?

HOLT: Yeah, it’s interesting. Chiara [Aurelia], who plays Jeanette Turner, and I talk about it all the time. We never see each other. What’s gonna make the audience question their opinions that they have is seeing every single layer and detail of each of these girls’ stories and who they are and where they come from and what their evolution is. That’s why it’s so important that we’re telling the story this way.

RELATED: ‘Cruel Summer’ Star Chiara Aurelia on Uncovering the Secrets and Mysteries of the Freeform Drama

What most helped you in setting each version of your character apart? Were there aspects of her wardrobe or just even something small you had with you, that helped you get into each version of Kate?

HOLT: It was interesting because in the beginning, I was still trying to find it. I had solidified a few things, like the hair and make-up and the wardrobe. Those were all set in stone. But when it came to characteristics, at the beginning of shooting, I was still trying to find it. And then, I got into a really good rhythm of transporting myself back into the ‘90s and listening to ‘90s music before every work day, or making sure that my communication with the incredible team of leaders that we have on this show was really on point. Some days we were shooting three different years in one single filming day, and so it was really important for me to be like, “Okay, what was the moment before? What did we establish before this scene?”

There were little things, like the Southern accent. In ‘93, it’s very distinct for Kate because her mother is so Southern and her mother really is controlling, in the way that she wants Kate to be just like her. Kate feels that and feels some sort of connection with her mom, where she has to follow in that path, so the Southern accent and the little bit of twang that I had in ‘93 was very prominent. And then’ after the traumatic experience in ‘94, where she hasn’t seen or been around any people, that accent loses its twang. And then, in ‘95, she is molded into her own self, where she doesn’t feel any control from anybody. That’s when she’s actually solidified who she is, in this rebellious stage of her life. That was something that I had really tied onto, with the way that she spoke and the way that she carried herself. There was the physical representation, but also the way that she would speak was something that I made the choice very firmly on, in what I did with Kate.

Because you’re filming in three different years and sometimes doing so in the same day, was there a day that was most challenging for you, or was there a scene that was most challenging to do?

HOLT: The ‘94 scenes were probably the most challenging because of the Kate and Martin relationship. It was really heavy. That’s something that people, when watching the show, should be a little guarded for. It was really challenging to film, some days. The basement set was not a really inviting, friendly set. It was actually very terrifying. I think everybody on our crew felt that. When they saw on the callsheet that we were gonna be filming in the basement that day, everybody’s energy was a little bit different. The ‘94 scenes were probably the most challenging and emotional to film. It was tricky.

Jeanette idolizes Kate and is envious of aspects of her life, but we also get to see ways that Kate is also maybe a little bit envious of Jeanette and the relationship she has with her family, as opposed to the one she has with her own mother. Was it fun to also explore that and really look at how these girls maybe could have been friends, in a different world?


Image via Freeform

HOLT: Absolutely. One thing that I think is really important for the audience to know is that Kate is not a mean girl. I think that’s what a lot of people would expect, but I know that’s not the case. Kate is not this malicious, mean human being. She is kind and compassionate, and she sees Jeanette and sees this sweet, innocent, free bird who is completely herself. I don’t think she sees the layer of envy that Jeanette has towards Kate, but I don’t think that Jeanette sees the layer of envy that Kate has towards her. It’s so easy for us, as humans, to completely judge somebody by their appearance or by their past or by their environment and who they surround themselves with. But in this specific show, the way that we’ve grounded it is by completely living those realities of what we do as humans. I think that there could have been a world where they could have been friends, but that’s just not the case here.

Now that you’ve gotten to the end of the season and have seen how things turn out, how different or surprising was it than what you thought it might be?

HOLT: Oh, my theories were so wrong. They were so, so wrong. I was so mad too because I was so confident in my theories. I am very satisfied. I think the audience will be too. I hope that they are. I think the evolution of this mystery is just so special and wildly adventurous, and people should prepare themselves for a pretty wild ride. What makes this show so fun is that you make up theories along the way, and sometimes you’re totally right, or you’re completely wrong, like me. Being able to struggle with the opinions, and who’s the victim and who’s the villain, really makes up for this kind of good storytelling that we’re doing.

How scary was it to get that last script and actually read it? What were the emotions you were going through?

HOLT: I didn’t want to read it. I was like, “I’m not doing it. I’m not shooting the last episode.” It was terrifying because it really is a journey. We deal with a lot of heavy topics in this show and I was really nervous to finish this story off. I think the audience is gonna be really satisfied. Reading through it, I was just so excited with how this show has been written and how you really feel transported back into the ‘90s. All of the layers that these characters have are just so specific and so special that I think people are really gonna fall in love with it, the way that I did.

You did Cruel Summer after having come off of Cloak and Dagger. How hard was it for you to say goodbye to Tandy after not being able to really fully finish out that show to a conclusion? Was it difficult to find a sense of closure and move on from her?

HOLT: Yes and no. I feel like it’s always hard to do that. When you’re so passionate about a character and about a project, even if it is completely sealed off with a ribbon, it’s always very difficult whenever you feel so strongly about something, and I did. I was so incredibly passionate about that character and about that project and the stories that we told, but I have found closure. Everything that we had to say in that show really impacted me, in a real way, and I’m very grateful to be a part of something that was based in fantasy, but also in reality, and made such an impact on so many people. As an actor, doing storytelling that moves people that way is the ultimate goal for me. I was very grateful to be a part of that experience.

What was it that originally made you want to be an actor? Was it a specific project or a performer that you saw, and did you have a moment where you realized that it could actually be a real thing and that you could do it as a career?

Olivia Holt Cruel Summer

Image via Freeform

HOLT: I was maybe about eight or nine years old when I started acting, not professionally, just doing local theater in my hometown, and I just loved it. It was so exhilarating. I remember being on stage and feeling like that’s where I belonged, but I lived in a small town, so the idea of making it a career was never legitimate, until I got an agent. That experience was so bizarre in itself because, at that point in my life, I was 10 years old and it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel like it was actually happening. It was just so fun. I’m so grateful for my parents because it never felt like a job. It never felt like work. Even still, if it ever felt like a job, I wouldn’t do it anymore because I want my life to be filled with fun and challenging experiences.

I remember the first gig that I booked was a sitcom on Disney Channel and I was working with the best people. I was working with a cast and a crew that really made it feel home away from home. That experience was just so spectacular and so special, in its own way. It was like my own little playground because I was so young and I was just having fun with the people that I was working with. I was also doing school on the set and I was learning so much about being an actor. I didn’t really have any experience, so I was learning from my co-workers. I also was learning about what writers did. We had a writers’ room upstairs on our soundstage, so I would go up there and be like, “How do you do this?” I even did that with the different directors that came in. My whole experience has been an adventure. I’m so grateful for this creative outlet because I don’t know where else I would put this creativity. I don’t know where else I would put it, unless it was into the incredible stories that I’m able to tell.

Cruel Summer airs on Tuesday nights on Freeform.

The Best New Movies on Amazon Prime Video in May 2021

From bonafide classics to A24’s latest horror gem, here’s what to watch on Prime Video this month.

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Tribeca Festival 2021 Announces First Games Award Nominees

The list includes some highly anticipated games, as well as some obscure titles.


2021’s Tribeca Festival will include an official game lineup, with a new Games Official Selection to be included at the film festival for the first time. While this is not the first time video games have been featured in the Tribeca Festival, the media is getting a lot more space in this year’s edition, with a handful of events tailored to please players.

As Tribeca Festival announced in a press release, the new game award “honors an unreleased game for its potential for excellence in art and storytelling through design, artistic mastery and highly immersive worlds.” All the nominees have in common the fact that they are unreleased games, which already grab players’ attention for their potential to tell stories by using the media in a unique way. Among the eight nominees, we have highly anticipated titles, such as Kena: Bridge of Spirits and Sable. Some less-known titles, though, like NORCO, also made the cut, bringing a lot of variety to Tribeca’s selection.


Image via Rockstar Games

RELATED:‌ Nintendo Announces ‘Game Builder Garage,’ Which Lets Players Make Their Own Games

The newly created Game Awards is not the only gaming event at this year’s Tribeca festival, which will also host “The Songs of Red Dead Redemption 2”, a special live outdoor concert presented in partnership with Rockstar Games. The concert will feature Daniel Lanois, the original soundtrack producer for Red Dead Redemption 2, who together with his band and some special guests will perform the songs of the game. Some nominees for the Game Awards will also have exclusive demos presented at Tribeca through a virtual hub, while a special online spotlight event will reveal exclusive footage from all the official games lineup.

2021’s edition of the Tribeca Festival is slated for June 9-20, in New York City. Check out the list with all the nominees, with their presumed release window, below. You can also click on each game’s title to watch their official trailer:

  • Harold Halibut, release date to be determined, will be available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits, expected to release this August 24, on the PC, PlayStation 4 and Playstation 5.
  • Lost in Random, coming in 2021 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows and Xbox One.
  • NORCO, release date to be determined, will be available on PC.
  • Sable, coming in 2021 for PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
  • Signalis, release date to be determined, will be available on PC.
  • The Big Con, coming in 2021 for PC and Xbox One.
  • TWELVE MINUTES, coming in 2021 for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

KEEP‌ ‌READING:‌ Video Game Release Dates for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, Mobile, and PC Gaming Titles

Why Emily VanCamp’s ‘Winter Soldier’ Screen Test With Chris Evans Was One of Her Best Auditions

What better way to kick off involvement in a long-running franchise?

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Meet the Blacks 2 Official Trailer and Release Date Revealed

The sequel to 2016’s horror spoof will be released theatrically in June, before going to VOD later this summer.


The sequel to Deon Taylor’s sleeper hit horror spoof, Meet the Blacks, has been given a title, a trailer, and an official theatrical release date of June 11. The comedy sequel will be released on VOD and Blu-ray by Lionsgate and Hidden Empire later on this summer.

While the first film parodied The Purge franchise, The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 features funnyman Katt Williams as a vampire and seems to follow more of an original storyline instead of being a standard spoof that slightly changes scenes of already existing movies. Mike Epps is set to reprise his role from the first film, along with Lil Duval, Bresha Webb and Zulay Henao. Taylor is returning as director and a co-writer.

In The House Next Door, Carl Black (Epps) moves his family back to the neighborhood he grew up in after surviving the terrifying events of the first film. After not receiving the welcome he’d hoped for, Carl realizes he has to battle against something much more terrifying than unfriendly neighbors when he realizes a man in the neighborhood named Dr. Mamuwalde (Williams) is most likely a vampire. Rounding out the cast of this sequel is Snoop Dogg, Danny Trejo, Tyrin Turner and Rick Ross.


Image via Hidden Empire Film Group

RELATED: ‘SNL’: Carey Mulligan Spoofs ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ & ‘Ammonite’ in Period Drama Sketch

The first Meet the Blacks found moderate success as an indie film theatrically, earning a total of 9.1 million dollars against a budget of only 900,000 dollars. However, the film found even more success on VOD in the years to follow. On January 22, Meet the Blacks was named number 5 in FlixPatrol’s list of the top 10 most-streamed movies on Hulu in the world. Taylor recently discussed why he decided to do a sequel, and it’s because it’s not so often that mainstream comedies are released with a mainly black cast. As Taylor explained:

“We first made the film because it is rare that we get comedies that speak to the urban culture. After the success of the first film culturally and theatrically, it was only right to service the fans that were demanding a sequel. This is why we make art and why it’s important for more black filmmakers to emerge.”

With this upcoming sequel awaiting release, Meet the Blacks has now joined a long line of horror spoofs that spawned sequels, like Scary Movie and A Haunted House. These films are funny in a way that other films are not allowed to be because they have free reign to be silly while still feeling clever in their own way. One thing that isn’t acknowledged enough about horror spoofs is that they offer more black representation than a lot of other comedies that are released today.

The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 comes to theaters in just one month, on June 11, but the first film is currently available to stream on Starz if the wait for the sequel is just too unbearable. Check out the trailer and new poster below:


Here’s the official synopsis:

Carl Black (Mike Epps) is about to face off with the neighbor from hell (Katt Williams) in The House Next Door. Carl has only ever wanted the best for his family, but after surviving the events that led to his (not-so-)bestselling book, he’s moving everyone to his childhood home, where’s he’ll contend not only with his wife Lorene (Zulay Henao) and kids Allie (Bresha Webb) and Carl Jr. (Alex Henderson) but everyone who drives him crazy: Cronut (Lil Duval), Freezee (Andrew Bachelor), Rico (Tyrin Turner), and an entire neighborhood of characters who seem to attract strange activity after dark. And nothing could be more freaky than his new neighbor Dr. Mamuwalde (Williams), who may or may not be a vampire. From co-writer/director Deon Taylor (Fatale, The Intruder), as the Meet the Blacks universe expands, it will be up to Carl to figure out what his neighbor is up to in the middle of the night before it’s too late for him and his family.

KEEP READING: Watch: New Teaser for ‘That Damn Michael Che’ Gives Us a Peek at HBO Max’s Comedy Series

‘Game of Thrones’: All 4 Gregor Cleganes, Ranked by Mountainousness

Ten years ago, ‘Game of Thrones’ introduced its Biggest Boi and the show was never the same.

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David Tennant Joins Terry Pratchett Adaptation The Amazing Maurice

The star-studded adaptation also includes Hugh Laurie and Emilia Clarke.


Former Doctor Who star David Tennant has joined the voice cast of The Amazing Maurice, an upcoming film adaptation of a best-selling children’s book by Terry Pratchett. This is the second project inspired by Pratchett’s works to star Tennant, after he played the part of the demon Crowley on Amazon’s Good Omens. The Amazing Maurice also stars Hugh Laurie (House) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), making the star-studded project a must-watch for both fans of Pratchett and animated movies.

First published in 2011, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is the 28th book written by Pratchett for his Discworld universe. Even if it’s part of a larger narrative, the book is a solo story, and also the first Discworld novel to be written for children. The story follows a cat and a group of talking rats who develop a scheme to fool people and take their money, in Pratchett’s interpretation of the Pied Piper of Hamelin folk tale.


Image via HBO

RELATED:‌ ‘The Watch’ Star Jo Eaton-Kent Talks Playing a Dwarf in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and Their Hopes for Season 2

While Pratchett is one of the most productive fantasy writers ever, with 41 published novels only in the Discworld universe, adaptations of his work are somewhat rare. The book which inspired his most acclaimed adaptation, Good Omens, was co-written by Neil Gaiman, while the latest adaptation of Pratchett’s work, The Watch, was poorly received by both critics and fans alike.

The Amazing Maurice is co-directed by Toby Genkel and Florian Westermann from a screenplay by Terry Rossio. Sky, one of the film’s main producers, confirmed the voice cast also includes Rob Brydon, Julie Atherton, David Thewlis, Himesh Patel, Gemma Arterton, Hugh Bonneville and YouTuber Joe Sugg.

The Amazing Maurice is set to be released in 2022, both at Sky Cinema and at the company’s streaming service NOW.

KEEP‌ ‌READING:‌ ‘Good Omens’ Filmmakers on the Challenges of Bringing the Book to Life

Lupita Nyong’o Comments on Making ‘Black Panther 2’ Without Chadwick Boseman

“His passing is still extremely raw for me.”

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Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright Explain Why Monster Deserved an Oscar Nomination

Hudson also discusses how ‘Dreamgirls’ still serves as her guide for everything.

We often talk about the lengthy journey from the completion of a script to getting the financing and go-ahead to go into production, but in the movie Monster’s case, the waiting game happened after the film was completed and received a standing ovation at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Despite that warm reception, Monster is only first getting a release now. But on the bright side, it is getting a Netflix release, which gives the Anthony Mandler-directed film an opportunity to reach an especially large audience.

The movie stars Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Steve Harmon, a teenager living in Harlem who’s an honor student eager to become a filmmaker. However, those hopes are obliterated when Steve is charged with felony murder. Did Steve really lose his promising future by participating in the crime or is he caught up in a rigged system? Monster explores the nature of justice through a deeply personal telling of Steve’s experience with the legal system, one that examines the drastically different ways those involved in his trial see him – from the prosecution painting him as a monster to his parents who see a loving son with a promising future.

Kelvin Harrison Jr. in Monster

Image via Netflix

With Monster now available to watch on Netflix, I got the chance to catch up with Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright who play Steve’s parents in the film. What gave these award-winning actors the confidence that first time feature director Anthony Mandler was the right person to helm the film? Hudson was actually the perfect person to ask because she worked with Mandler on a music video. Here’s how Hudson put it:

“It started out when we did a music video of mine and I was like, ‘You’re gonna direct a film one day.’ He’s like, ‘And you’re gonna be in it.’ I said, ‘I will be there!’ So that’s kind of how we ended up syncing up together and me being a part of this project because Anthony Mandler is an amazing director and now you’ll get to see his amazing work through film, which I’m just proud to be a part of.”

While the stars of the movie aren’t often involved in the distribution-seeking process, that doesn’t mean they don’t feel the frustration of a film not getting the attention it deserves. Wright explained:

“I was a little frustrated that the film hadn’t found a home immediately after Sundance. When we screened there, this film got a reaction that is rare. It was a standing ovation for this film that rolled on and it’s a function of the power of the story, obviously the direction of the film, and I think it’s particularly a function of the work that Kelvin put in.”

Kelvin Harrison Jr. on the Set of Monster

Image via Netflix

RELATED: Netflix Drama ‘Monster’ Starring Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Jeffrey Wright Receives Heartbreaking First Trailer

Wright went on to say that Harrison Jr. not getting the recognition he deserved for his work in the film was more disappointing to him than anything:

“I’ve seen a lot of young actors who get a first role, they come out and they get a nomination and are celebrated and received by their peers and I was incredibly disappointed for Kelvin that he didn’t have that opportunity with this film. Because there’s not been a performance that I’ve seen by a young actor that surpasses this performance. Of all of the young actors that have come through, and there are some really talented guys, I haven’t seen one who’s been recognized with an Oscar nod that surpasses what Kelvin does in this film.”

Jeffrey Wright and Jennifer Hudson in Monster

Image via Netflix

Looking to hear more from Hudson and Wright on their experiences leading their first features, what it was like working opposite Harrison Jr. on Monster and more? You can catch our full conversation in the video at the top of this article!

KEEP READING: Collider Spotlight: Kelvin Harrison Jr. on Acting, Ambition & Going Toe-to-Toe with Powerhouse Performers

Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Credits Scene Ranked From Worst to Best

“I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.”

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Sanditon Star Theo James Confirms He’s Not Returning For New Seasons

The new seasons will also changes showrunners as well.


After the surprise renewal that Sanditon has been renewed for two more seasons, Theo James, the star of the first season, has released a statement confirming that he won’t be returning as the smoldering Sidney Parker.

Sanditon fans – who should really call themselves Standitons if they don’t already – will be experiencing serious mixed emotions right now with yesterday’s good news that PBS’ Masterpiece anthology and United Kingdom-based streaming service BritBox were teaming up to deliver Seasons 2 and 3, which was soon followed by the news that the love interest for Rose Williams’ Charlotte Heywood won’t be coming along for the ride.

Although James’ statement doesn’t mention it explicitly, there’s a chance his decision not to return could be due to scheduling conflicts, after it was confirmed in February he’d be starring alongside Game of Thrones‘ Rose Leslie in HBO’s adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife, from Sherlock and Doctor Who co-creator Steven Moffat. The Time Traveler’s Wife is expected to start shooting before the end of the year, as is Season 2 of Sanditon.


Image via PBS

RELATED: ‘Sanditon’ Earns a Surprise Renewal for Two More Seasons

It’s another major shakeup for the period drama after creator Andrew Davies also stepped back from his position as showrunner, with Justin Young set to fill in after writing four episodes from the first season, but Davies will at least remain part of the creative team as an executive producer and part of the writing staff.

The fact that Sanditon is even making a comeback at all came out of the blue yesterday, after it was canceled by British network ITV in December 2019 before it had even aired on PBS. There could be still be some significant personnel changes to come on either side of the camera as the various schedules are worked out for the cast and crew.

Based on Jane Austen’s unfinished manuscript, the series follows young Ms. Heywood as she arrives in the town of Sanditon to be drawn into the scheming, ambitious, and often secretive way of life the locals have long come to accept as their everyday existence. There’s no word on when we can expect Season 2 to premiere, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted, and you can check out James’ statement below.

KEEP READING: Henry Golding Joins Dakota Johnson in Netflix Adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’

The Best New Movies on Amazon Prime Video in May 2021

From bonafide classics to A24’s latest horror gem, here’s what to watch on Prime Video this month.

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Indie Horror Movie Delivers Unexpectedly

There’s tons of motion and tons of stillness present in Initiation. The camera is constantly swirling, framing just about every scene in a cornucopia of dynamic oners and kinetic compositions. The screen is also jam-packed with visualizations of technology; the ubiquity of cell phones and constant communication constantly streaming in any empty area of the frame. At the same time, the picture is more than willing to slow things down, to examine its characters beyond their surface level tropes, to really reckon with the fallout that comes from a serial murderer, rather than simply hopping to the next gory set piece (though the gory setpieces still affect, no worries there). Initiation is a unique indie horror-thriller, one with an unprecedented sense of maturity in its filmmaking and thematic aims, even as it gives you the visceral scares you want and need.

RELATED: Exclusive: Watch the Trailer for ‘Benny Loves You,’ a Horror Movie About a Murderous Childhood Toy

The Scott siblings (Lindsay LaVanchy and Froy Gutierrez) are the platonic ideal of “successful college students.” LaVanchy’s Ellery runs a vibrant, popular sorority on campus, while Gutierrez’s Wes is an Olympic level swimmer. But when a freshman initiation joint frat/sorority party seems to go wrong in ways that echo Wes’ morally questionable past, a killer starts picking off the participants one by one, leaving Ellery, her best friend Shayleen (Shireen Lai), and the young woman who may have been victimized by Wes (Isabella Gomez) to try and solve this horrific mystery while surviving themselves.

Co-writer and director John Berardo, adapting his own short film with co-writers Brian Frager and LaVanchy, is less interested in giving a young-leaning audience an introduction to slasher film pleasures than giving them an introduction to prestige thriller disruptions. I have no idea how he and DP Jonathan Pope achieved such a robust, constantly driving visual language on such a limited budget, but I’m so grateful they did. Every inch of Initiation’s wide frame is used with intention, its fluid movements absorbing us fully in the action, its jump-scares feeling genuinely surprising and refreshing due to its cinematic confidence. At times, some of these techniques are used unnecessarily on “director’s reel on Vimeo” feeling establishing shots, but I’d rather take a film with too much visual flavor than not enough.

Lindsay Lavanchy and Jon Huertas in Initiation

Image via Saban Films

Thematically, Initiation explores lots of issues facing contemporary youth culture in ways both subtle and provocative. The inciting incident comes from a cruel, slut-shaming social media game played by the gross frat bros of the college, and the rest of the film, without ever explicitly calling it out, finds its characters constantly engaging in their digital spaces, pulling out their phones almost as a reflex even during the most intense of scenes. The film overlays whatever they’re doing in their screenlife on the margins of the frame as their real life plays out in front of them, portraying how so many of us rely on constant digital chatter in about as effective a way as I’ve ever seen in contemporary cinema.

The film also explores trauma, legacy, systemic failures of so-called protective institutions, and the emotional impacts and fallouts that come to the individuals stuck in the center of them. But these explorations are, curiously and usually effectively, never quite centralized. They lurk in the margins of every action, reaction, emotional beat, and even kill portrayed in the film. And the actors are more than up for the challenge of their director’s heavy emphasis on showing not telling. This young cast tackles the pain they’re going through with a refreshing lack of veneer, more than willing to look straight up “bad” in their pursuit for truth. Initiation serves as great showpieces for these performers, and I can’t wait to see how they all continue to grow in the roles they deserve to come.

By the end of the film, some of these issues are stated and explored more explicitly, a set of gnarly kills is staged in thrillingly staged visual tableaus, and the ending twist punches you in the gut before hard-cutting to black and getting the hell out of there. It feels like Initiation has left some of what it needs to say on the table, and yet, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since its ending, meaning that the film and all its curious techniques achieves a welcome goal of audience immersion impeccably. Initiation is quite the low budget genre marvel, a propulsive yet patient thriller that cares deeply, yet ruthlessly, about its characters. It’s kind of like Sam Levinson combined Promising Young Woman with Scream, and it is more than worth you seeking out.

Grade: A-

Initiation is now available in theaters, on demand, and on digital.

KEEP READING: ‘Judgment’ Next-Gen Remaster Review: A Wholly Immersive, Unique Detective Story

The 85 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (May 2021)

Our handy, extensive guide is updated weekly with all-new picks.

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Win a Free Trip to an Upcoming Timur Bekmambetov Screenlife Film Set

Plus, he might feature your Twitter or Facebook account in his new production like ‘Searching’ or ‘Profile.’


Are you a fan of director Timur Bekmambetov? Did you like Searching starring John Cho and Debra Messing where the entire action was set on the desktop and are you waiting to see his new Screenlife thriller Profile opening in theaters on May 14th? Have you ever wondered how those Screenlifes movies are made at all? If you answered yes to these questions, I have some amazing news to share.

We’re partnering up with Bekmambetov’s production banner Bazelevs to give away an all-expenses paid trip to the set of an upcoming Bekmambetov’s Screenlife production for you and a guest! In addition, you might be featured in his new movie as an extra. Since it’s a Screenlife universe we’re talking about and everything plays out on the screen – technically it’s not you, but your social media profile that might appear in the movie. Imagine it could be you posting a comment on a Facebook page of one of the characters of a horror film Unfriended, or is it you sending over a message to a John Cho character desperately browsing social media for the trace of his disappeared daughter in Searching or even helping a journalist to catfish an ISIS terrorist in an upcoming Profile movie? If you’re a true Screenlife fan, this is your chance to become a part of the Screenlife universe.

profile movie image

The plan is for this set visit to occur in the fall or winter of 2021 and it will be somewhere in the USA. The trip includes roundtrip air-fair, $125 per day for food, and 3-night accommodation (winner and guest to share accommodation). You’ll also get rides to and from your home airport and destination airport (via Lyft, Uber, or cab) plus transportation to set. The guest will need to travel to and from the airport with the winner.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit a movie set this is an amazing opportunity.

RELATED: ‘Animal Crossing’ Horror Movie Short “Don’t Peek” Will Become Feature With ‘Wanted’ Director’s Help

As you might expect, there are some legal requirements. To win this contest you must be:

  • At least 18 years of age.
  • Live in the continental US.
  • A US Citizen.
  • Be willing to take a COVID test before arriving on set and possibly again on set.
  • Winner must also have a passport in case the set visit moves to a location outside the USA.

If you’d like to enter the contest, please email thecollidermailbox@gmail.com with the subject line “I Want to Visit an Upcoming Bekmambetov Production.” You need to include your name, address, and phone number in the body of the email. We’ll be accepting emails until Friday, May 14th at noon ET and we’ll contact the person that won soon after.

profile movie image

Note: when the winner is contacted they will have to provide proof of having a passport and that they live in the United States. If the winner cannot provide proof of contest requirements within twenty-four hours they forfeit their contest entry and the next person selected will be the contest winner. There is no purchase necessary and the winner will be selected using a random number generator based on the number of entries. Any questions please email.

A huge thank you to Timur Bekmambetov for partnering up with us for this amazing giveaway. Whoever wins this is going to have an amazing time.

Finally, if you haven’t seen the trailer to Bekmambetov’s Profile, check it out below. The film follows an undercover British journalist in her quest to bait and expose a terrorist recruiter through social media, while trying not to be sucked in by her recruiter and lured into becoming a militant extremist herself. The thriller plays out entirely on a computer screen in the Screenlife format, pioneered by Bekmambetov.

KEEP READING: Ice Cube, Timur Bekmambetov Filming Screen Capture Sci-Fi Thriller Using Screenlife Technology

Here’s What’s Leaving Netflix in May 2021

ATTN: ‘Sherlock’ fans! Now’s your last chance to sneak in one more binge-watch on Netflix.

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How Spider-Man 4 Cancellation Paved the Way for Peter Parker’s MCU Future

In today’s edition of “what if?” alternate superhero history, we look back at what could have been as Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 4 would have hit theaters exactly a decade ago. Following the financial success of Spider-Man 3, the plan was to have Raimi direct another installment with Tobey Maguire reprising his role as Peter Parker once more. That didn’t happen.

Instead, we got The Amazing Spider-Man reboot with Andrew Garfield, which ultimately paved the way, eventually for Spidey to make his way to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This sequel not happening, oddly enough, probably made a bigger impact than the movie itself would have made.

RELATED: Playing Spider-Man Again Is Something Andrew Garfield Will Never Say Never To

Let’s rewind the clock. On March 12, 2009, the official Sony Pictures Twitter account stated, “Sony Pictures to release Spider-Man 4 on May 6, 2011.” Considering Spider-Man 3 made just shy of $900 million at the box office in 2007, this seemed like a wise choice. Mind you, Iron Man had just come out in 2008. The idea of a superhero cinematic universe wasn’t really on anyone’s mind just yet.

Unfortunately, Sony had a release date they wanted to hit and Sam Raimi as pre-production rolled on, didn’t feel that he could maintain the creative integrity of the project while trying to make that date. So, on January 11, 2010, it was officially announced that Sony would opt for a reboot instead. At the time, Raimi said the following.

“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job.”

James Vanderbilt wrote the screenplay for what would become The Amazing Spider-Man, taking its title from the Marvel Comics series that brought the superhero to life in the 60s. Andrew Garfiled was cast as Peter Parker with Mark Webb in the director’s chair. Emma Stone was also tapped to play Gwen Stacy, which offered something different since Kirsten Dunst had portrayed Mary Jane Watson in Sam Raimi’s trilogy. The movie, released in 2012, made a respectable $757 million at the box office, paving the way for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014. Against heavily mixed reviews, the sequel earned just $708 million.

After some bizarre considerations were made behind the scenes, such as an Aunt May solo movie (yes, really), a bombshell deal was made with Disney and Marvel Studios. Spider-Man made his way to the MCU, with Tom Holland playing Peter Parker beginning in 2016 with Captain America: Civil War. That has worked out quite well so far, with Spider-Man: No Way Home due in theaters this December.

But what would have Spider-Man 4 looked like? We’ve heard bits and pieces over the years. Vulture was expected to be the villain with John Malkovich said to be considered for the role. All we can do is wonder. The good news is, rumor has it Tobey Maguire and possibly Andrew Garfield are going to appear in No Way Home, as the Marvel multiverse is about to be explored in the MCU. We’ll see if that truly comes to pass. For now, you can check out the original announcement from the Sony Pictures Twitter account and ponder what might have been.

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