movie recommendations

The Belko Experiment

Image result for the belko experimentI can hardly count how many movies I have said were my “best Midnight Madness experience ever” at this point.  But if there is a film that fits the bill of quality, gore, fear and sheer madness that works so well with the live tiff Midnight crown, it’s The Belko Experiment.

I went into this one like “oh, cute, the guy from The Newsroom is in it.” The world building is so strong, that a quick opening montage and you are right on board with this spooky corporate allegory and you know this will be far from “cute.”

Americans are recruited to work at a cushy office in Colombia.  Over the top security is justified by the dangerous area and workers are treated to the cliche office of their dreams.  When the building locks down and  a mysterious voice floods the intercoms demanding employees participate in a bloody game, the foreseeable chaos ensues.

This Battle Royale meets Office Space take isn’t the only one of its kind, but it is no doubt the most successful.  It is the absolute best blend of gore and fear, completely balanced to keep it a legit thriller despite the splashing blood.  It also prompted me to update my zombie contingency plan for the office.  My monitor riser makes an amazing shield.

Great if you liked: Battle Royale, The Hunger Games, Mom and Dad, Shaun of the Dead, Mayhem, The Final Girls

 

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Tusk

Image result for tusk posterIt’s weird when a movie comes in cold, expecting to become a cult classic later in its life.  This questionable strategy, surely, and lead to a pretty disappointing opening for this Kevin Smith joint, but as it bubbles under the surface, showing up on Netflix, Tusk might slip right into cult fave status.

Based on a random discussion had on Smith’s podcast, this film follows a podcaster who seeks out a mysterious recluse with an affinity for Walruses.

It’s certainly scary, with the podcaster quickly becoming a hostage, but it’s also weird, wild, and funny.  I don’t know if I would call it a horror comedy, since it is something else entirely.  Not playing on tropes, but creating its own new weirdness, Tusk will make you laugh, but also feel full blown dread.

The performances are as weird as the subject matter, and the ending is a… lark. Check it out.

Great if you liked: Clerks, Inglorious Basterds, Zombieland, Yoga Hosers, Warm Bodies, Mom and Dad, Dogma

In a Valley of Violence

Image result for in a valley of violenceThere are always moments when I bring up Westworld and someone responds “I don’t like Westerns.”  And often, I retort “well it’s more of a Sci-Fi than it is a Western.”  But, as someone who also never liked Westerns, I think I need a new retort.  Maybe I watched the wrong kind.

In a Valley of Violence is the right kind.  I saw this at a small festival for the sole reason that I trust Ethan Hawke.  Predestination had played the year before at the same fest and I wanted more of that.   I was totally blown away by how much fun Valley was and was revitalized in a desire to watch some cowboys.  The cast acts the hell out of this off beat script and it results in a real delight. It has all the ‘dog protectiness’ of John Wick and the “this dude made a western?” of The Quick and the Dead.

This is usually where I put the short synopsis to prime you for the flick, but it honestly would be really difficult to narrow this down to a few sentences.  In the tradition of a Western, rising actions are numerous.  The mysterious Paul stumbles across a town en route to Mexico where they run into this priest, and there are these girls, and a cop, and something about being an army deserter, I don’t know. Just trust this one.

Great if you liked: No Country for Old Men, John Wick, The Quick and the Dead, There will be Blood, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Gangs of New York

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.

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.