Excited for Moon Knight? The directors’ past films can show you what to expect
Are you excited for Moon Knight? You should be. While the anti-hero won’t be well known to many, his two main stars in Oscar Isaac (Star Wars, Dune) and Ethan Hawke (The Black Phone, Dead Poets Society) will be.
But we digress. Moon Knight, the upcoming MCU Disney Plus show, is Marvel’s latest attempt to craft entertainment with a wider range of tones and genres, and it’s cast the perfect directing team to do just that.
And, with the six-episode Marvel Phase 4 project set to land on Disney’s streaming platform on March 30, now is the perfect time to see what we can expect from its visual, tonal, and stylistic looks.
The confirmed administrators of Moon Knight are Mohamed Diab, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The former is believed to have directed four episodes, with the latter two working as a duo on two episodes. However, online rumors suggest that George Clooney also directed one of the superhero show’s entries.
Egyptian director Diab is relatively new to Western screens, but he’s won numerous awards around the world, with nominations and awards at film festivals such as Cannes, Venice and Chicago. If you want to check out his work, some of his films – including Clash and Cairo 6, 7, 8 – are on Netflix in select regions.
The power team we’re looking at here, however, is Moorhead and Benson, who have an impressive history of classic cult films under their belts. The couple’s films are fantastic at creating eerie atmospheres and storylines full of mystery and tension. But their films also contain real character stories and stories that are actually resolved, instead of being outright nonsense like your typical low-budget cerebral sci-fi story.
The duo is also made up of classic DIY filmmakers. They direct, shoot, write — they’ve even sometimes starred in their own work — and often make the most of low budgets, with great localization work and scripts that are the stars of the show.
With the release of Moon Knight just over two months away, you better prepare yourself by checking out Moorhead and Benson’s back catalog. Below, we go over the movies in their filmography that you should check out.
Resolution marked the first time that Moorhead and Benson co-directed a feature film, which was also shot by the former and written by the latter.
Set in a shack outside of San Diego, as well as the surrounding hills and towns, Resolution tells the story of a man who handcuffs his drug-addicted friend to help him clean up – but his own self-destructive habits friend, hostile neighbors and a mysterious force makes the effort difficult.
It’s impossible to explain what makes Resolution great without spoiling the gripping ending. One could accuse it of being a slow burner but, even when the sci-fi and mystery elements aren’t present, the character development and hard-to-quiet tension are a fitting substitute.
As the duo’s first film, it’s clearly the lowest budget, confined to a booth and a few other select locations, limited distribution and, for most of its runtime, no special effects. That way it’s a far cry from the Disney-funded Moon Knight, but some themes (which we won’t discuss for fear of spoiling the movie) provide thematic connections.
Between Resolution and Spring, Moorhead and Benson worked on a few smaller projects, including a section for one of the V/H/S images, but Spring is the next movie we recommend watching.
Spring tells the story of a bereaved American expat who travels to Italy and falls in love with a local woman. It’s definitely not a romantic comedy and, as the movie’s poster reveals, this woman has a monstrous secret.
It’s a great movie for fans of Lovecraftian horror aesthetics, especially in terms of monster design. But, beyond that, there’s a surprisingly prescient story about finding yourself through other people and the potentially damaging issues of a relationship addiction to do so.
It’s also an interesting outlier in the filmography we explore. While most of the filmmakers’ films explore male relationships — The Endless is about brothers, Synchronic portrays co-workers, and Resolution shows longtime friends — Spring is about a romantic relationship.
Talk to most fans of Benson and Moorhead’s work, and they’ll tell you The Endless was their introduction to filmography. This is the case for this writer and many others, as it is arguably the duo’s most popular film.
The Endless is about two brothers, raised in a cult but gone when they were young, who return to the place as adults and notice mysterious aspects of the group they didn’t know before.
As they explore the camp and their understanding of the past, the brothers’ relationship begins to break down, before the true forces at play are revealed. Incidentally, the two brothers are played by Moorhead and Benson, showing that their acting prowess is as strong as their behind-the-scenes work.
There’s a reason this is considered the entry point into the duo’s filmography – and that’s because it’s an amazing movie. The various aspects of filmmaking, from the script and performances to the composition of the shot and the audio mixing, are all woven with impressive skill to create a story that juggles tension and character development.
Like Resolution, some might consider it slow, but enough happens in every scene and shot to keep you guessing. The payoff is also incredibly satisfying, both story-wise and character-wise. Seriously, if you’re going to watch a movie we recommended on this list, make it The Endless.
Synchronic looked like a surprisingly big budget movie for Benson and Moorhead when it was released. Now that they have the Marvel money, it doesn’t feel quite as huge, but it does mark a budgetary and tonal shift from previous work.
Starring Anthony Mackie (Altered Carbon, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier) and Jamie Dornan (Billy Elliot, Fantastic 4), it’s about two paramedics working in a town plagued by a mysterious designer drug that, when taken, blows up time. effects.
Like previous works by Moorhead and Benson, Synchronic focuses on the characters rather than the science fiction concept being explored. But, whereas The Endless and Resolution focus on barely comprehensible malevolent forces that the characters must contend with, Synchronic is about an achievable alternate future. For that reason alone, viewers might find it a bit easier to watch.
Tonally, it feels a bit different from the duo’s previous films, but there are a few nods to previous films present for long-term fans.
There are many other works by Moorhead and Benson that we also recommend you check out.
Something In The Dirt is one of them – you can’t watch it right now because, at the time of writing, it’s set to debut at the Sundance Film Festival. If you are lucky enough to attend, you can catch it. And, if you’re based in the United States, there are still tickets available for the virtual screenings.
Something In The Dirt seems like a return to the duo’s roots as DIY filmmakers: they’re the stars again, with what seems like a relatively low budget and limited locations. It tells the story of two neighbors who witness paranormal phenomena, whose relationship crumbles as a result – the perfect combination of sci-fi and character development that have become hallmarks of the duo’s filmmaking process.
During this time, the couple also produced a few films, including two that we really recommend watching: After Midnight and She Dies Tomorrow.
The first is a relationship-drama-slash-horror, directed by Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella, about a man living in the countryside who is tormented by a monster after his partner leaves him. It’s an enjoyable story made fantastic by a tense one-take scene towards the end, which just might be the best non-horror scene you’ve never seen in a horror movie.
The latter is a horror character drama – directed by Amy Seimetz – about a woman who thinks she’s going to die the next day, and the effect that has on those around her. It’s a great character story and has received enough attention to make it worth checking out.