Category: Reviews

Happy Death Day Dies A Slow Death

Overview: A young woman must solve her own murder as she relives it repeatedly. Blumhouse Productions; 2017; Rated PG-13; 96 minutes. The Hook Brings You Back: Any great horror movie needs a satisfying hook. This is necessary for a film to not get lost among the countless other horror entries that come and go every Halloween season. Luckily, Happy Death Day has that buy-in even from the promotional materials. It has been described by many as a horror version of Groundhog Day. Honestly, this was enough to get me in the theater. There are several directions that this film...

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Leatherface is Exactly What You’d Expect

Overview:  A young nurse is kidnapped by escapees from a mental institution; Lionsgate Films; 2017; 90 Minutes. The Whole World’s Gonna Know: This time of year calls for a good old-fashioned blood romp through the fields. Fans of horror classics will turn to the days of yore for that nostalgia-flavoured death dream: ‘80s franchises, favoured cult classics, and, of course, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. TCM didn’t need an origin story. Its unanswered questions made up for some of the most depraved and creative imaginings for its audience. How did this family get so completely maniacal? How long has this...

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VIFF: Sweet Virginia is a Smoldering Thriller

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: A retired rodeo star becomes involved with a killer in a small town. Automatik Entertainment; 2017; Rated R; 105 Minutes. Cold Open: Sweet Virginia is a complex web filled with many spiders. Ex-rodeo champ Sam (Jon Bernthal) has retired his spurs after too many falls off the bull and runs a little motel in Alaska called Sweet Virginia that gets its fair...

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A Double-Billing of ’80s Pop Horror: Welcome to Fright Night

Is there a better title for a horror movie like this? Not outright terrifying, just an all around crowd pleaser that just leaps off the screen. Fright Night. It has that special zing when you say it. Though vampires are stewards of the night eternal, it’s a harder task to keep them fresh. Fresher than a clove of garlic, anyway. One of the first films to play with meta genre conventions on a large scale, Fright Night doesn’t attempt to redefine the vampire mythos like Near Dark or The Lost Boys. It merely implements them with a coming of...

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VIFF: The Endless is a Perfect Circle

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: Two brothers revisit the cult they escaped years before to confront their past and present. Snowfort Pictures; 2017; Not Rated; 111 minutes. Hey, Guys: We’ve been fans of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead for a long time. It began with Resolution, their first inventive indie horror back in 2012, continued in 2014 with their dark romance Spring, and rounds out this...

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Rick and Morty Season Three is (Mostly) Its Darkest Season Yet

Overview: Rick escapes the Galactic Federation and destroys the Citadel of Ricks, Beth and Jerry go through a divorce, and Morty seems to be slowly realizing the damage Rick is doing to his life. 2017; Adult Swim; TV-14; 10 episodes. Spoilers for Rick and Morty season three Szechuan Sauce: After almost exactly a year and a half since its last episode, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon’s Rick and Morty returned with The Rickshank Redemption last spring and promised the “darkest year” of their adventures. Season three delivers on that promise with the darkly clever episode Rickmancing the Stone, the unceasingly...

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Poetry of the Steak: Reinterpreting The Fly 30 Years Later

Originally published on August 14, 2016. When we think about David Cronenberg’s The Fly we think about the grotesque transformation of Seth Brundle that drives the film and weakens our stomachs. 30 years later and the artistry of Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis on Seth Brundle’s six staged transformation into Brundlefly remain an unmatched feat in practical effects, paralleled only by Rob Bottin’s work on The Thing four years prior. Despite the effects wizardry that keeps audiences returning to Cronenberg’s film over and over again, The Fly’s memorable body horror and exploration of the flesh would be lessened if...

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The Mountain Between Us Strays Off Course

Overview: Two strangers are thrown together in a dire life-or-death situation in this romance-meets-survival story. 20th Century Fox; 2017; Rated PG-13; 103 minutes. In Peril but Out of Synch: The night before I went to see The Mountain Between Us, I caught the last fifteen minutes of the 1971 made-for-TV movie Duel on cable. It’s a guilty pleasure movie for me and I’ve seen it, in whole or in part, dozens of times.  In a very literal interpretation, it’s a survival film, a man-against-machine test of wills, slightly cheesy and slightly formulaic. I bring it up because those 15 minutes...

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Blade Runner 2049 is an Epic Personal Journey

*Spoilers ahead* Overview: 30 years after the events of the original film, Blade Runner K uncovers the body of a replicant who died in childbirth. Investigating this seeming impossibility unravels a mystery that can change the world and stop human progress dead in its tracks. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 163 minutes. Fearful Symmetry: Blade Runner 2049 begins with an eye, before the scene shifts to a spinner vehicle moving through dark, towering structures. This opening directly recalls the opening of Ridley Scott’s film, all that’s missing is the fire. Scott created a hellscape, a steaming gutter that...

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Cult of Chucky Brings New Toys to Madcap Seventh Entry

Overview: Picking up five years after Curse of Chucky, the titular killer doll tracks Nica down to a mental asylum where he continues his assault of terror, while revealing a larger scheme that brings his original target, Andy, back into the fray. Wanna Play?: It almost goes without saying that by the time the seventh entry of a horror franchise comes around, expectations are pretty low and justly so. The examples are numerous. The same could be said of sixth entries as well. Yet, Don Mancini bucked the trend with 2013’s Curse of Chucky, which broke the curse of...

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Now Available on Netflix Instant Streaming: Raw May Be the Year’s Best Horror Film

Originally published on June 9, 2017. Raw is now available on Netflix instant streaming. Overview: A gifted veterinarian student finds her dietary and personal values challenged through a triggering event at college. Petit Film; 2016; Rated R; 99 minutes. Let it Sink In: Raw bared its flesh at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Adding to its critical success in Europe was the story that several audience members at the Toronto International Film Festival had to receive medical attention after fainting, a tried and true horror marketing ploy that, no matter how valid, always gets my attention. It delivers on...

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Charismata is Unmissable Indie Horror

Overview: A rookie detective investigates satanic killings while dealing with her own demons. Loose Cannon Films; 2017; Not Rated; 100 Minutes. Resting Bitch Face: Detective Rebecca Faraway (Sarah Beck Mather) has had it. It’s clear in the first frame of her face reflecting the harsh red light of the dashboard; she’s done. It’s a look recognizable to anyone who has been forced into confinement with a difficult personality. In this case, it’s her partner Detective Smith (Andonis Anthony) who condescendingly pries about her well being, comments on her appearance, and makes jokes at her expense. They’re on their way...

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Candyman Is A Rare Great Horror That Explains Why Great Horror is Rare

If the character Candyman never made an appearance in the first film that carries his name, Candyman would still be an overwhelming and fully functioning horror film. If the movie had excluded its villain and focused instead on Helen Lyle’s (Virginia Madsen) obsessive research and the Babadookian spiral of her sanity, pointing her fixation at a folklore concept without having the urban legend represented in corporeal form, we would still have an unsettling psychological horror film about obsession and class divide. Or, if the narrative lens had turned a few degrees to document Anne Marie McCoy’s (Vanessa Williams) perspective...

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Nightbreed and the Majesty of Monsters

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with monsters? I do. It was somewhere in the midst of Frankenstein, Goosebumps, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and War of the Colossal Beast that I came to love them. I researched them. I wrote about them. I drew them on every blank piece of paper I could find and turned many a school art project into a monstrous vision of blood and blisters, much to the disgust of my teachers. I was separated from my peers for monsters. I went to detention for monsters. My parents were called...

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