My 25th Anniversary as a Film Critic


Today marks twenty-five years since my first publication as a film critic, which were a couple of capsule reviews of the 1993 Wellington Film Festival. 

I’ve loved the movies since I was a lad, especially after seeing Star Wars, aged nine. A few years later dad took me to see 2001: A Space Odyssesy. Around the same time my mates and I watched a bunch of cult/classic pre-cert “adult” movies on VHS (The Omen, The Changeling, Alien, An American Werewolf In London, Dressed To Kill, Midnight Express, Scum, The Deer Hunter). From my mid-teens onwards I started attending the Wellington Film Festival. At Victoria University I studied Film History, Analysis, and Production. In late 1991 I worked on Peter Jackson’s Braindead, and in the mid-90s I worked for two years as a script assessor for the New Zealand Film Commission.

In April of 1993 an independent weekly newspaper was launched, City Voice. Mark Cubey was the arts editor and David Geary was the film and theatre reviewer. It was leading up to the annual Wellington Film Festival and Mark gave me the break, inviting me to step into David’s role, as he was stepping down to concentrate on his own playwriting. Wisely, I opted out of taking on the theatre reviews.  

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I remained City Voice’s resident film critic until December ’97 when I moved to Australia. In early ’98 I joined the team of Sydney weekly street press Revolver magazine, with the support of arts editor Oscar Hillerström. I stayed with Revolver, chiefly as film reviewer, but also the occasional interview and club review, until mid-2000. It’s curious to note that I joined both City Voice and Revolver four months after they were each launched, and three years after I left they either folded (City Voice) or were re-branded (Revolver evolved into The Brag). 

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I continued to write reviews for lifestyle website, until the dot com explosion imploded, and then for the next few years I freelanced, writing reviews for other street press, including FilmInk and City Hub, and long-gone glossy mag DVD Now (later Total DVD). For a couple of years I must have been in the wilderness, as I don’t have any archived reviews. In August of 2006 I joined the blogosphere of and started Horrorphile – The Pleasure Of Nightmares, where I indulged in horror movies and beyond. For the next six years I wrote hundreds of reviews on cult classics and contemporary flicks, mused on the art and artifice of the genre, and occasionally interviewed filmmakers and the like. But in the second half of 2012 disaster struck when the umbrella site suddenly crashed and burned, taking with it hundreds of blogs and creating thousands of dead links. I lay low for about six months, nursing my wounds.

In April 2013 I opened an account with Squarespace and launched Cult Projections, my parlour of vivid ciné dreams, focusing on genre movie recommendations, past and present, and continuing to interview industry shakers and movers. 

To mark the anniversary I’ve selected twenty-five [Ed: twenty-six, actually] essential viewings, personal favourites from each year I’ve been a film critic, 1993 - 2018. 

Romeo Is Bleeding, Crumb, Living In Oblivion, The Funeral, Another Day In Paradise, Black Cat, White Cat, The Limey, Memento, The Anniversary Party, Morvern Callar, Oldboy, Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind, A History Of Violence, Ils, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, The Children, The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, Monsters, Young Adult, Killer Joe, Kiss Of The Damned, Nightcrawler, 99 Homes, The Eyes Of My Mother, I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore, You Were Never Really Here.