Horror

Mom and Dad

Image result for mom and dad posterThere is a lot of buzz about Nicholas Cage and his horror chops these days with the release of the Mandy trailer.  Nick showcases some pretty spooky scary screams in that joint, and is being praised for his self aware “Cageiest performance ever.”  But for those of us that saw Mom and Dad, Cage going… full Cage… in horror is nothing so new.

This one part The Crazies and one part Santa Clarita Diet flick is the most fun you’ll have watching suburban parents try to slaughter their own children.

When an unknown cause inflicts a suburban town, parents are suddenly hit with an insatiable need to kill their own children.  Children left to fend for themselves, desperately cling to life by fighting back at their own parents.  Carl and Josh must survive this impossible day by using everything they know about their own family to fend off their murderous mom and dad.

This obscene horror comedy is so much more.  It serves as a blatant allegory for the stresses of being a suburban parent and what it means when your whole life is suddenly about your children.  Brent and Kendall struggle with their changing identity from individual to parent, you know, until becoming totally murderous.

I had so much fun watching this, and Cage and Blair are so flawless as the psycho Mr. and Mrs. Jones types. Blair’s performance is so great in this off beat genre, I feel obligated to campaign for her in more roles.

And, while I am not making early assumptions about Mandy, this movie features some pretty epic full blown Cage that I don’t imagine can be topped.

Great if you liked: Santa Clarita Diet, The Guest, Mum and Dad, The Crazies, Get Out, Cooties, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Jennifer’s Body, Weeds, Little Evil, Idle Hands, The Belko Experiment.

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You’re Next

Image result for you're next posterThis month, I participated in Grim Magazine’s Slasher Madness bracket, where I, obviously, picked You’re Next to win.  But, despite making it to the final showdown, it lost by a large margin.  That leads me to assume one thing; not enough people have seen it.

I stumbled across this slashic by having my ear to the horror grindstone and it both revitalized my slasher fandom and skyrocketed me into becoming the massive fan of the blogged about, The Guest.

Erin is on her way to her new fiance’s family during their anniversary celebration.  The nerves of ‘meeting the parents,’ are taken to new heights when the family finds itself under attack by masked killers.

What this movie does painfully right is take us back to the slasher basics by mixing the right amount of camp and gore into a new story about a ‘cabin in the woods’ massacre.  It keeps it simple, doesn’t set out to do anything it can’t accomplish, and therefore leaves the viewer satisfied in the way you were after the seminal slashers of old.  Final girls have had such a great boom this decade, and Erin is no exception.  Yes, this was written and directed by men, but Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett are great at handling their female leads, something they double down on in The Guest.

Great if you liked: The Guest, The Strangers, Funny Games, A Clockwork Orange, The Purge, Hush, Vacancy, Black Christmas, Halloween, Friday the 13th

John Dies at the End

Image result for john dies at the end posterSorry, twitterverse, this movie’s title is a spoiler.  You’ll also never believe what happens at the end of The Sixth Sense.

This movie is weird as hell.  Is that enough of a selling point?  I immediately fell in love with this for being so strange and weird and fun and remember it being an hours long universe building mind trip, but it’s 100 minutes long.

After a party, Chase wakes to discover is friend, John, is missing.  After getting some mysterious phone calls from what appears to be a clairvoyant John, Chase sets on a mission to solve the mystery of the new drug, “soy sauce,” and save the planet from what might be an otherworldly, sinister force.   Along the way, he encounters ghost hunters, evil beings, and maybe an alternative universe or two. This movie takes you so many places, you will honestly feel both older and revitalized by the end of it.

Told by Chase to a reporter, the transcendence of a linear timeline in the plot is stacked with non-linear story telling, and it’s used with careful purpose.  Watching the level headed Chase transform throughout the narrative via his own telling is relateable enough to have you wonder if you’d, you know, hunt ghosts or whatever.

In the same way you fell for the “whatever is going on,” weirdness of Dirk Gentley, you’ll fall for this.  You will spend some time trying to reason the transcendence of space and time, and ultimately land on having a great time.

Great if you liked: Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Service, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, A Scanner Darkly, Bubba Ho Tep, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Phantasm.

Cube

I told IMDB that I liked this movie, and it started recommending movies to me like “Sphere” and “Triangle” as if the only qualification was that I liked movies titled for shapes. That said, Triangle looks dope. (And NGL, Circle is very similar and will probably be up here eventually).

Cube is like the expanded Saw franchise without the gore. Before Saw 2, there were lots of cool indie sci fi films that asked what would happen if strangers (to each other and the audience) were in an unfathomable predicament and had to reason their way out. Cube is one of the best of these.

Six strangers wake up trapped in a seemingly endless maze filled with twists, turns and traps.  Each stranger is attempting to reason why they have been selected for this deadly game and why they have been put near the others.  If you’re like me, math stresses you out, so prepare to be stressed.  The attempts to solve the cube are so frustrating for you and the characters, you’ll be scratching your head angry at every past high school math teacher for not making you care more.

Films like this are great because you never know who is telling the truth, it raises ethical questions of who’s lives matter most, and forces you to wonder how you would behave to stay alive.

A fun tidbit is that there is a sequal to this called “Cube 2: Hypercube” and a disappointingly named third called “Cube 0” as if no one noticed how good “Cube Cubed” would have been.

I recommend this for a rainy Sunday inside, which will hopefully happen at some point this sunny October, ammiright?

Great if you liked: Saw, Exam, Circle, Triangle, Identity, Coherence

Hatchet Trilogy

Or Quadrilogy, I should say.

HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH, FRIENDS  A F13 in October?  What a gift we have been bestowed in this crazy year they call ‘2017.’

My usual F13 plans involve, well, watching a Jason Voorhees flick, because, of course.  But that’s not why you’re here.  You’re here because you’ve seen all the popular slashers and it’s the middle of October, and you want MORE. Don’t worry, I’m here.

So while I would usually be watching a Voorhees flick, I am actually currently attending the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  Tonight is slasher night and while there is no Voorhees, we will get to see Kane Hodder  (who’s often adorned that iconic hockey mask as Jason) on the big screen as Victor Crowley in the fourth installment of the series.  Hatchet is often skimmed over by slasher fans, so I am here to share it with you, dear readers.

The entire trilogy reads like one long movie as each picks up exactly where the last left off.  After the mysterious and tragic death of a boy in a swamp in Louisiana, legends spring up about a father accidentally killing his son, a deformed cursed boy, and a fire set by mean spirited boys.  Victor Crowley, the cursed deformed boy, terrorizes anyone who comes to the swamp after dark.  After her family falls victim to Crowley, Mary Beth sets off on a mission to rescue her father and brothers and rid the swamp of the curse of Victor Crowley.

This series is great junk food when you’re looking for a new slasher, and, who isn’t.  I won’t lie to you, the third installment is by a landslide, my favourite, so I recommend committing to this trilogy.  It’s absolutely obscene and has no excuse for some of its missteps, but you will certainly be entertained.  Settle into this while I screen part 4 for you tonight at #tadff.  I’ll let you know how it is.

Great if you liked: A Nightmare on Elm Street, NOES, Friday the 13th, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Lives, The Final Friday, Scream, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, I Know what you did Last Summer, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, My Bloody Valentine, Maniac

The Crazies (1973)

Yesterday was a rough day.  The world lost George A. Romero AND Martin Landau.

For those unfamiliar, Romero is the godfather of the modern day zombie.  Before his iterations, there was no head shot, no double tab, no infectious bites.  Romero’s career is riddled with “of the Dead” features that have inspired an entire genre and generation of film makers.  Further, his films were diverse in such a way that they were so before their time.

But almost any casual fan has watched a Romero zombie flick.  Here is my oft missed selection.

The Crazies tells the story of a small town wherein an infection has caused certain people to both laugh at and commit heinous violence.  The infection is born of a failed military operation, and the town is sealed off by personnel attempting to contain the situation and study the results of this accidental test.  A small group of survivors attempt to evade quarantine and save themselves from the military wrath.

This film is so different from your average fright, and is a new take on a ‘zombie’ genre film as the ‘zombies’ are not the rotting bitey corpses you imagine, but psychopathic versions of living people. The opening scene is pure terror and the third act is absolutely devastating.  This oft missed film totally breaks the mould and is absolutely wroth the watch.

Great if you liked: Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead

Funny Games

Image result for funny games movie posterListen, you get it. This is a horror game, so as soon as I post something not horror (below), I need to sandwich it so it looks like my tastes are diverse.
So today, we are taking it back to scary with Funny Games.

Before Michael Pitt shook his creep persona from Murder by Numbers and started stealing hearts and liquor as Jimmy Dormody, and before The Strangers was serving us creepy home invasion realness, there was Funny Games. (In fact, even 10 years before that, there was the original).

If you ask me, horror is mostly fun because it is gratuitous and unbeleivable.  But the home invasion sub-gendre scares me top to bottom for it’s ability to seem absolutely plausible.  Funny Games takes it even further by pulling this sh** in the daylight. *Full body shudder.*

Sadistic Peter and Paul come across the vacation home of a family of three, and take them hostage, forcing them to participate in twisted games.  The simplicity of this take on the invasion, paired with the sadistic games, daylight, and helplessness of a family not expecting such an attack makes this film so scary.  There is a sense of dread associated with not being prepared for the very simple attack of two unarmed intruders.

Intentionally or not, this serves up the psychotic scare reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange, made more familiar in the psychos’ all white outfits and use of objects for beatings.

While not the penultimate home invasion movie, this certainly stirred up my own fear, and features great performances, including that of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, masters of the creep, in protagonist positions.

Watch this whatever time of day you want, because it is not going to make daylight feel safe for you anyway.

Great if you liked: The Strangers, A Clockwork Orange, Copycat, Last House on the Left, Vacancy, The Collector, Panic Room, You’re Next, Cape Fear, Fatal Attraction

The Girl With All the Gifts

You’re kind of a film fan, right? So you’ve probably seen 28 Days Later?  And you remember that feeling you felt when you had stumbled across a lesser known foreign zombie flick and were like “hot dam.”  And on rainy days, scanning for something to do, you long for that feeling again, right?

I found that when I saw The Girl With All the Gifts.

This unsuspecting movie hit me totally by surprise.  It starts in some sort of military bunker where a a teacher is teaching to a group of young students who are strapped to their desks, glared at by seemingly disgusted soldiers.  It doesn’t rush to answer your questions, but it ultimately takes you on a ride through a post human universe where the children are the next mutation of a zombie virus which appears to have wiped out much of humanity.

Mike Carey, writer of both the inspiring novel and screenplay, brings his comic book sensibility to the big screen.  What is at its core a zombie film, reads more like the human panic of V for Vendetta, the confusion of mutation and technology of WE3 and the tests of humanity of The Walking Dead. (Comic book versions of all, to be clear).  It’s a story far deeper than your average “… of the Dead” flick, but doesn’t skimp on the snapping zombies.

I can’t say enough about this roller coaster through the not so distant future.  It’s acted so beautifully and is such a great take on the genre. You’ll also be pretty surprised by a lot of the cast.

A little birdie told me it is screening at The Royal in Toronto and I recommend you all check it out.

Great if you liked: The Walking Dead, V for Vendetta, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Morgan, Cloverfield, The Mist, Monsters

Sadako v Kayako

So people have been all abuzz about the release of Rings, the follow up we didn’t ask for, but all kind of wanted since The Ring totally changed the game for a lot of horror fans.  I remember when The Ring was in theaters, and my entire high school told their viewing stories as if we had all survived a natural disaster.  “J Horror” (Japanese horror) had made a big splash for Western cinema fans, and sparked remakes of plenty Japanese horror giants like The Grudge, Dark Water, and One Missed Call.

Much of J Horror focuses on these black haired crawling demons, like the ones we fell in love with in The Ring.  (A lot of them live in toilets… it’s weird).  I don’t mean to brag, but for the premiere, the city of Toronto was covered with locks of black hair and the demons were creepin’ all over.

For those of you who don’t follow along with the Japanese counterparts, the demon from The Ring (or Ringu, the J original), is known as Sadako, and the demon from The Grudge (or Ju-On) is known as Kayako.  So before you go flooding the seats to see the American follow up, check out this unreal death match of your two favourite J Horror demons, Sadako v Kayako.

After two girls accidentally stumble across the legendary Sadako tape, and another upon the Kayako house, they contact a demon expert to try and rid themselves of said demons.  After some failed attempts, they conclude the best method would be to have the demons face off against each other.  That’s pretty much all you need to know.

It’s actually pretty scary and doesn’t skip any J Horror tropes, but has a full heap of that dry horror humour that J Horror does so well.  It manages to be hilarious without being too campy, and is an absolutely unreal follow up for any casual J Horror fan, even if you’ve only seen the remakes.

The promo was for a new horror streaming service called Shudder.  This isn’t an ad for it, but it’s dope and maybe if they see this, they’ll give a girl a few months free, n’am sayin?

Great if you liked: The Ring, The Grudge, Ringu, Ju-On, Freddie vs. Jason, Sinister, Insidious, Death Note, Shaun of the Dead

Dead Set

So I have had Black Mirror teed up for a great TV edition for a while now, and, suddenly, to my delight, Netflix revived the British series and suddenly everyone is talking about and has seen the amazing sci-fi anthology series of which I can’t get enough.

Charlie Brooker is nothing short of brilliant in his anthology of short films about the dangers of technology.  So, what do I do now that it’s no longer the obscure?  Suggest to you an earlier Brooker work: Dead Set.

This 5 part series answers the hypothetical of what would happen in the Big Brother house if a zompocalypse happened.  (I know you’ve been wondering).

Dead Set has the grittiness and… Britishness… of 28 Days Later with the unpredictable story of the Big Brother house, which, honestly, seems like a pretty solid place to hole up. *Changes Zombie Apocalypse Contingency Plan*

It’s a really great addition to the zombie drama.  It’s also low key brilliant since the Big Brother house is likely populated by specifically selected characters to create big drama, kind of like the characters of movie would be, particularly in a zombie or cabin in the woods trope film.  So seeing the fictional cast of a would be reality show interact in an apocalypse is welcome and a lot of fun.

It’s also 5 episodes and one season which makes for a nice light binge without having to commit to 40 seasons of new zombie drama (I’m looking at you, The Walking Dead).

Great if you liked: 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, The Walking Dead, Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Black Mirror, Big Brother