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Netflix Finds Success Reviving Yet Another Genre Hollywood Gave Up On: Erotic Thrillers



From the high school love stories that put Noah Centineo on the map to the festive fairy tales whose puntastic titles (Falling Inn Love, The Knight Before Christmas) blatantly came before their scripts, Netflix’s success with the rom-com has already proven it can revive a genre long since considered passé by the traditional studios.

But the media giant now seems determined to resurrect a far more sexually-charged type of guilty pleasure – and one that fell out of fashion when content streaming was nothing more than a pipe dream – the erotic thriller.

It’s been nearly 30 years since Sharon Stone’s leg-crossing scene etched Basic Instinct into popculture history and briefly spearheaded a mini wave of movies that combined hard-boiled crime with softcore bedroom action (see Sliver, Color of Night and the nadir of Madonna’s acting career, Body of Evidence).

Only a handful of similar sex-and-death films have found their way into mainstream cinemas since the mid-1990s (Wild Things, Unfaithful, In the Cut) and Catherine Tramell’s belated return in 2006’s unintentionally hilarious Basic Instinct 2 appeared to kill of the subgenre for good.

However, thanks to Netflix’s cover-all-bases approach, the erotic thriller is currently enjoying something of a renaissance. Bizarrely, it’s a multilingual Polish production with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes that’s leading the way. Yes, despite the lack of star names, the subtitles barrier and a highly questionable premise, 365 DNI has been nestled inside Netflix’s Top 10 most-watched list since its premiere in early June.

The adaptation of Blanka Lipińska’s first novel stars Michele Morrone as a crime lord who abducts a sales director (Anna-Maria Sieklucka) and gives her a full calendar year to succumb to his sociopathic charms. It sounds like the plot of a horror movie. And yet, incredibly, directors Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes expect us to ship this significantly power-imbalanced pairing, with critics arguing that the film essentially glamorizes Stockholm Syndrome as a result.

Of course, 365 DNI‘s kinky sex scenes have grabbed just as much attention as its problematic narrative, with its two leads spending most of the near-two-hour running time in a permanent state of undress. In fact, their cavorting during the yacht-based montage has led some viewers to believe Morrone and Sieklucka were doing the deed for real.

But despite the performances and the dialog rarely straying above porn movie levels, 365 DNI has become nothing short of a phenomenon. And with the two other chapters of Lipińska’s Fifty Shades of Grey-esque trilogy already published, expect an equally maligned sequel to be announced any time soon.

Of course, 365 DNI isn’t the first time that the streaming service has ventured into such lurid territory. Back in 2017 it dropped Gerald’s Game, an intriguing twist on the erotic thriller in which a kinky session-gone-wrong finds a woman handcuffed to her remote lake house bed. Unlike Netflix’s Polish import, this Stephen King adaptation boasts some fine acting talent (Carlo Gugino, Bruce Greenwood), genuine nail-biting tension and a unique concept. In fact, it remains one of Netflix’s highest-rated originals.

Cam, a mysterious blend of psychological horror, techno-thriller and B-movie sleaze set in the world of webcam porn, was even more well-received on its release a year later. And there are elements of the erotic thriller in the noirish Alicia Vikander vehicle Earthquake Bird and one of the most deranged originals to date, the twisty revenge fantasy The Perfection.

However, Netflix’s other forays into the genre have been decidedly less boundary-pushing. Little more than a glorified TV movie, Dangerous Lies (Camila Mendes plays suspected femme fatale) is as unimaginative as its title suggests, while You Get Me (Bella Thorne’s obsessive teen stalks one-night stand) is essentially a poor man’s Swimfan. And we’re not too keen on Fatal Affair (July 16), either, the Nia Long/Omar Epps vehicle which is little more than a generic bunny boiler.

This blatant attempt to lure the Lifetime audience has reaped one major benefit. You had largely flown under the radar when it first aired on the basic cable network in 2018 but became a global hit when it transferred to Netflix later that year.

Following the exploits of Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley), an unassuming bookstore manager by day, obsessive serial killer by night, You still contains its fair share of disbelief-suspending melodrama. But by touching on the #MeToo movement, toxic masculinity and social media, it brings the erotic thriller kicking and screaming into the millennial age; there’s a darkly comic streak which proves that it doesn’t take itself too seriously; and the sex scenes range from sensual to refreshingly honest (which other show would dare to show a guy climaxing after just eight seconds?)

Perhaps more importantly we’re not encouraged to sympathize with the villain. Sure, Joe has been the focus of some troubling Ted Bundy-style worshipping by certain sections of the internet. But unlike 365 DNI, You seems fully aware that its leading man is a monster that we’re supposed to be intrigued by but not to root for.

Netflix has also embraced the erotic thriller in several other TV shows with mixed results. Two-time Academy Awards nominee Naomi Watts suffered her biggest career misfire since Diana when she played a psychologist with a distinct lack of boundaries in the much-maligned Gypsy. Two-time Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger was deemed far more praiseworthy for her comeback turn as a seductive venture capitalist in What/If but still couldn’t save the show from descending into trashy soap opera.

This lackluster response didn’t deter Netflix from commissioning Dark Desire, a Mexican drama about a married woman’s passionate and tragic weekend getaway (and one that has implanted itself in the Netflix Top 10 since its release). And later in the year Simona Brown will star as a single mother who forms a love triangle with her boss and his wife in miniseries Behind Her Eyes.

All the signs therefore point to a new golden age for the erotic thriller. It will be interesting to see whether it can arouse for longer than the last.

JonO’Brien(@jonobrien81) is a freelance entertainment and sports writer from the North West of England. His work has appeared in the likes of Esquire, Billboard, Paste, i-D, The Guardian, Vinyl Me Please and Allmusic.

Watch Dark Desire on Netflix


Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact




Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie. 

Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo. 

But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way. 

The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake. 

The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.

Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either. 

Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price. 

Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity. 

Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well. 

Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. 

Liu Yifei made no outright apology. 

Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas. 

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5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!




American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations. 

Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.

Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming. 

  1. 1994

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes

Year of release: 2019

1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre. 

Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.

  1. Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Genre: Drama

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2020

Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.

This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride. 

  1. Wild Wild Country

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes

Year of release: 2018

The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!

  1. Lenox Hill

Genre: Documentary

Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes

Year of release: 2020

For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.

Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.

This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.

  1. Borderline

Genre: Comedy

Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes

Year of release: 2016

The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.

The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!

Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!

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The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses




When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.

What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?

As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.

  1. It saves your money

Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.

  1. It allows you to try several games

Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.

  1. It will make future gambling more profitable

Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.

Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.

We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.

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