A group of twenty somethings set off to film an adult film in rural Texas, renting a location from elderly couple – Howard and Pearl. With dreams of stardom and celebrity, the crew of six begin filming their movie only to learn that something is terribly off about Howard and Pearl.
Mia Goth (Suspiria 2017) plays a double role in the film. Maxine Minx, the porn actress AND Pearl, the old lady. This was the best part about the movie- her duality. It wasn’t until after the film that I realized it was the same actress portraying both characters. The team of six are determined to make the most artful and successful pornography film ever, truning them all into massive stars. With RJ at the camera helm with his artsy direction, girlfriend Lorraine (Jenna Ortega- Insidious: Chapter 2) on audio, Wayne (Martin Henderson- Little Fish 2005) the hot shot producer and the stars; Jackson, a former marine, Bobby Lynn,a southern seductress and Maxine.
What I Thought
If Boogie Nights met Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Only instead of Leatherface we have a creepy, horny old lady.
Although a decent slasher, it wasn’t perfect for me.
I DID like the practical effects, the gore scenes and the sheer amount of blood used in this movie.
I did NOT enjoy the pacing, waiting until almost two thirds in before it really picked up. I also found a lack of character development, so I had a hard time feeling any real empathy or connecting to any of the characters, other than Pearl.
You feel bad for Pearl. A former dancer and beauty queen, she’s now stuck inside her senior body, not able to do the things she once loved. Like, making love to her husband for example. Howard has a bad heart so their physical connection has dwindled making her feel extremely lonely and empty.
Seeing the young crowd of “filmmakers”, creepily watching them perform their scenes through windows, awakens a visceral spark inside, turning this meek old lady into one brutal killer.
I loved all the gore once it started rolling. Some fantastic makeup and special effects. LOTS OF BLOOD. The soundtrack was also pretty great considering the film takes place in 1979.
The only outstanding performance in this movie for me, was Mia Goth.
I think it could have been better. If only we just cut out one or two of the many sex scenes to explore the characters more. Although it was refreshing to see a brand new Slasher flick that WASN’T a remake, it didn’t deliver for me like I had hoped. It wasn’t as tense as I expected, and I didn’t love it. A decent watch but don’t go in with high expectations.
A “sequel” to the original 1974, and the ninth film in the TCM franchise. It’s almost 50 years since the initial massacre. A group of friends, hoping to open a food truck and other small businesses to gentrify the now abandoned town of Harlow, find that it’s not completely uninhabited as promised.
There’s still one elderly resident (Ginny) living in the run-down old orphanage. She claims to have papers of ownership from the bank and she’s the only remaining caregiver to a seemingly empty building. This ruins Melody and Dante’s launch (a busload of investors are on their way). Assuming she’s just a kooky old hanger- on, complete with a weathered confederate flag hanging outside. They begin a verbal dispute which rouses someone from the back of the building.
“I’m all he has.” She tells the group. One sole orphan to care for. The town reject that no one wanted. A hulking ominous figure moves in the background. Ginny, having been worked up in the confusion, ends up collapsing and is rushed to the hospital. Ruth, Dante’s girlfriend, goes with her and the “son” in the ambulance out of empathy. This is where it starts. The woman dies, the “son” is Leatherface and he goes berserk.
After brutally murdering the ambulance workers, only Ruth is left alive. She’s able to quietly radio in for help stating, “He’s wearing her face.”
This prompts a call to Texas Ranger, Sally Hardesty. The sole survivor of the 1973 slaughter.
What I Thought
It wasn’t bad. The characters weren’t developed as much as they could have been for us to relate to them because frankly, they die pretty quickly. That being said, they weren’t totally unlikeable. I quite enjoyed the Sally character. Although, I wish we had more time with her and it would have been preferable to have the original Sally, played by Marilyn Burns.
Some really exciting gore scenes in this one. Lots of blood. I even kind of felt like they tried to humanize Leatherface a little in this installment. At one point while Melody is begging for her life she apologizes to Leatherface.
I was confused by the purpose of the character of Richter. The abandoned town’s lone mechanic (for some reason). I thought he would play a larger role than he did. It seems his only purpose was to provide the backstory where we learn Lila is a survivor of a school shooting. Another disjointed part of the story. It really didn’t add much to the movie other than the “facing your fears” trope.
I thought the pacing was pretty good, the acting was decent and I enjoyed the nostalgic connection to the original film. But I think it could have been better.
Critics are being pretty harsh on this installment. Is it the best? No, not even close. But we HAVE taken a near 50 year old horror movie and revived it for a whole new generation to enjoy. Which will no doubt prompt them to go back and maybe watch the original, or my favorite installment- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 version. Frankly, I also enjoy seeing the Final Girls come back for that last battle.
Worth a watch if you’re a fan of the franchise, just don’t go in with high expectations.
Anne, played by the impeccably timeless Barbara Crampton, has been a dutiful minister’s wife for over 30 years. Her life is predictable, monotonous, repetitive and a little dull. Her husband Jakob, played by Larry Fessenden, is blissfully ignorant of his wife’s feelings. When a bizarre encounter with The Master leaves Anne feeling more awake and emboldened, than ever before. She becomes fearless, feels younger, stronger… But she must feed in order to keep that lustful feeling of finally being alive.
What I Thought
Sink your teeth into this. Within the first fifteen minutes of this movie I knew I was going to like it. It has that classic horror movie feeling. I’d compare it closest to 80s horror. A lot of action, humor, a lot of spraying blood and other fluids, and beautifully done, deliciously disgusting gore scenes. I loved it.
I liked the fact that the main character was a mature woman rather than the stereotypical young damsel. I enjoyed the dynamic, often humorous, between the husband and wife. The wife, Anne, obviously going through a midlife crisis, feeling lonely and trapped and undesired, and her happily unaware husband the minister. He’s supportive, but he takes her for granted and doesn’t really understand her anymore.
When Anne decides to visit an old flame secretly, they find themselves attacked by hordes of rats. Anne, having been bitten, and immediately regretting her actions, flees home to the safety of her mundane life only to learn it’s about to get a lot more eventful.
I loved how they played off of the sexuality of Anne. It was a nice reminder that women in their 50s are still super sexy even though Crampton has hardly aged since her Re-Animator days. The Master is enchanted by the lovely Anne and pursues her seductively much to Jakob’s horrific dismay.
I also really enjoyed the character development of Jakob, Fessenden played him superbly. His character begins as pious, highly conventional and uptight which almost costs him his marriage. When he realizes he only has a few bleak options if he wants to keep his wife AND keep her happy, it puts him in quite the spiritual pickle resulting in some very memorable and hilarious scenes.
Some good jump scares, but not too many. The makeup and effects were fantastic. The Master was brilliantly and classically played by Bonnie Aarons. It pays homage to some of the best vampires of all-time. Nosferatu and The First from Buffy the Vampire Slayer come to mind. Although the pacing was a little off initially, and the writing wasn’t perfect, it picked up and ended up being a highly entertaining watch. I simply loved the ending.
It was a classic story told from a fresh perspective with a lot more layers that I think some critics are missing. Definitely worth your time.
Where to find it
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It was late August when Arthur noticed the new neighbors rolling up to the house that had lay empty next door for so long.
Four years ago, a young family moved into 291 Eden Road. They seemed like any other family. The husband/Dad, Andre, seemed nice enough. He worked at the hospital as an anesthesiologist, and his wife Molly worked at the Dentist’s office as an assistant. Pretty thing, with a welcoming smile, always bubbly, cheery; often came over to Arthur’s with a container of fresh muffins or cookies she had baked. She was a real sweetheart. Then there were the girls. Sadie was nine and Carrie was six. Little blonde cherubs with masses of unruly curly hair and big ponds of blue eyes. Arthur liked to watch the little ones play outside in the summer. Full of energy, full of life.
The Popovs got along nicely next door for a good year or so before the town turned into a media circus when the family simply vanished. Andre never showed up for work at the hospital, Molly never made it into work and the girls never made it to school. No one had seen or heard anything from the family since. They found the father’s empty SUV driven down an embankment near the river, doors open. There was no forensic evidence to be found other than the family’s own fingerprints and hair. There was no closure for the town and every so often they’d mention the mysterious event on the local news hoping for new leads. There didn’t seem to be any signs of struggle or any traces of blood in the Popov home either. People started to speculate that the family was murdered, or that Andre had been involved with some shady dealings, but there was no hard evidence to support either theory. It was just a random mystery.
The girls. They were so sweet. Arthur thought of them often. Arthur would lie in bed with his memories until he drifted off.
The next day he was shuffling out to get his mail when a man emerged from the home next door.
“Hi there neighbor.” He approached with a hand held out, Arthur took it and shook it. “We just moved in yesterday, the name’s Dan.”
“Yeah I saw you unloading yesterday. The name’s Arthur. That house has been empty for a while, it’ll be nice to have some life next door again. You have little ones?” Arthur asked.
“Yeah, two girls, nine and five, Lucy and Shelby, I’m sure you’ll hear ‘em outside.” Dan gave a little chuckle.
“Where you working Dan?” Arthur inquired.
“I’m a software engineer, I work a lot from home. Which is great, I get to spend time with the girls while Deanna is at work. That’s my wife, she’s a nurse. Long shifts.” Dan pursed his lips in a what are you gonna do kind of way whilst giving his shoulders a shrug.
“Anyhoo, pleasure to make your acquaintance Art, I gotta run out for supplies, thinking about having a barbecue this weekend, we’d love to have you if you’re free.”
Arthur secretly resented being addressed as Art, it seemed demeaning, less dignified and less respectful. Like he didn’t win all those medals, seeing his fellow men slaughtered while killing a few men himself over in Panama and the Gulf. But he smiled nonetheless and accepted the invitation. He didn’t get many home cooked meals these days.
Arthur had frequent nightmares about the Popovs. The unresolved mystery hit the town hard and it was on the news constantly for a good year or so. It was traumatic for the entire community. In Arthur’s dreams he saw the youngest Popov girl, Carrie- his favorite. Her long messy curly blonde hair would sometimes float above him when he woke in the middle of the night. She would be staring down at him, loose dirty curls hanging down low enough he thought he could feel them tickle his nose. It was her face that startled him. It wasn’t right. Her face was distorted and blackened, her throat-gashed wide open to show putrefying bone and cartilage beneath, and there were two empty black holes where her eyes should be. She was often screaming out, he couldn’t hear the scream, he merely saw her face contorted in fear, but mostly rage. On those nights Arthur would have to get up and shuffle to the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face. One night as he did so, he saw the lovely Molly appear briefly in the mirror behind him. Her face black and blue with decomposition, throat slashed open in the same manner as Carrie’s, that same rageful empty scream. Carrie definitely had her mother’s eyes and Molly’s were black empty sockets as well. That was the night Arthur decided to go see a doctor. “Maybe some sleeping pills would help.” He muttered to himself as he shuffled back to his bed.
When he was able to get in to see Dr. Stern, it was explained to him that he may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, with the time served in the army, and being so close to the victims of such a horrific crime. It clearly impacted him. The good doctor also mentioned something about night terrors and offered a prescription to help him sleep. Arthur doubted the jackass’s mambo jumbo but he filled the prescription and took three that night before bed and slept like a log. No dreams, no floating angry decaying children.
Later in the afternoon Arthur sat out on his deck sipping a cold root beer watching the new neighbor girls play. The small one was already his favorite. Full of sass, dancing like no one’s looking. The older girl was off doing cartwheels when the little one fell and started crying.
Arthur grabbed a couple of cold root beers out of his cooler he kept beside his deck chair and lumbered across the yard gently getting down to one knee as laid the cold root beers down.
“I think you’ll live, don’t you darlin’?” Noticing her striking eyes he handed her a cold can of rootbeer and popped the top which alerted the attention of the older girl. “So which one’s Lucy and which one’s Shelby?” Arthur asked as he handed the older girl a cold beverage.
At that moment a very frazzled mom came tearing out of the side door, screen door banging against the side of the house. “Jesus what happened?” She demanded.
“I think the little one took a tumble, she’ll be ok, you know kids.” Arthur responded.
“Where did you get the root beers?” She asked both girls.
“The nice man gave them to us, nice and cold!” Answered the older girl.
“Hi.” The mom stuck her hand out. “I’m Deena, this little one is Shelby, the superstar over there is Lucy.” Lucy had sat her root beer down and had resumed her cartwheels. Arthur watched the little girl bounce and giggle. He smiled.
Deena interrupted his thought when she mentioned, “We’re having a barbecue this Saturday, we’d love it if you could join us. Is there a Mrs….?” She asked.
“Nader. The name is Arthur Nader. And no there is no Mrs. Nader, she passed away some years ago. We have a son, Ethan, he serves his country, so we only get to see each other a few months out of the year when he vacations. Watching the little ones makes me smile. I’d love to come to your barbecue, Deena.” He thanked her and shook her hand. He began to lumber his way back over to his own property before taking his off and waving it over his shoulder.
“Have a nice day ladies.” He shouted behind him.
“I asked that nice man, Arthur, next door to the barbecue Saturday.” Deena told her husband at dinner. She passed a bowl of corn to Shelby. Lucy talked eagerly about her day at school. While both Deena and Dan pretended to listen as they continued their own side conversation.
“Oh yeah, I met him outside. Seems pleasant enough. It would be nice to get to know our neighbors.” Dan agreed.
That night Arthur tossed and turned in his bed. His thoughts kept fleeting back to the day’s earlier events. Pretty blonde Lucy doing her cartwheels. Little Shelby’s glassy green eyes, wet from crying. There was something just so innocent about a little girl crying.
He got up to use the loo at some point in the night. As he reached for the towel to dry his hands he saw a ghastly sight peering back at him in the mirror. This time he saw the face of Sadie Popov. She was floating there in pajamas. The nine year old’s face was dry and cracked looking. Black holes where eyes should have been. She opened her mouth and let out a dire scream that made Arthur clasp his ears. A loud audible scream. The medicine cabinet, all its contents and the mirror shook in response. With Sadie’s mouth agape, torrents of maggots started pouring out of her eye sockets and mouth. They started plopping into the sink making black cruddy smears in the white porcelain. They were covered in something grotesque. Decomposition. Arthur started to shake as one landed on his hand. He screamed and shook it off. His clothes were drenched in sweat. He tried to settle himself. Telling himself he was just dreaming, but here he was standing in the bathroom. He heard the floor creak behind him. The old pine floors made audible creaks when you walked on them. This was coming from behind his bedroom door. He sat up, his heart was racing. He didn’t like this feeling. Feeling scared. The door swung out and closed with a bang. This made Arthur jump and yell. “You get the hell out of my house! I have guns!” A figure slowly walked forward and in the moonlight coming in through his window he could see Molly’s face. Lovely Molly. She approached in a yellow sundress, smiling at first with a basket of muffins. Arthur rubbed his eyes, and when he opened them her face was an inch from his. No longer lovely but angry. Her eyes were black. Her mouth open revealing two rows of long razor sharp teeth. He felt ice cold hands around his throat and as her face bent backward revealing those horrendous teeth, ready to seemingly eat his face- he awoke. This time the phone was ringing. It took him a moment to realize what was going on, whether he was truly awake or still in this nightmare with the Popovs.
“H…H… Hello?” Arthur’s voice shook as his eyes danced furiously around the bedroom. It was daytime now.
“Dad? Dad, are you alright? You sound weird.” It was Ethan, Arthur’s son.
Arthur slid on an argyle knit vest over his collared shirt for the barbecue. He felt it made him look smart. As he approached the property he could smell grill smells. Propane, meat, sweet sauce. It made his mouth water. Making his way into the yard his eyes were immediately drawn to the children. Lucy and Shelby were hopping excitedly up and down with a few other kids he hadn’t seen before.
“Art!” Dan waved with a beer in one hand, spatula in the other.
Ugh, Arthur grumped to himself but returned a forced smile and hesitant wave while gritting his teeth. “Hey Dan, nice day for a cookout.” Arthur responded. He walked up to Deena who was setting out condiments on the patio table. She wore a green halter sundress that matched her eyes and and her long auburn hair tied up in a ponytail. She looked… Lovely.
Everyone was introduced and Arthur learned that the extra people at the barbecue happened to be a co-worker of Dan and his wife and their son and the other couple was Deena’s sister, her husband and their two daughters. Arthur played the kindly neighbor well. No one really knew him. Not even his wife, June, really knew him. Ethan knew him better than his wife. Arthur learned Dan had a business trip coming up which would coincide with Ethan’s visit. He was eager to introduce the girls to his son.
As Deena cleared plates, the kids all retreated to a tent that was propped up in the backyard. The women went to the kitchen to clean up the dinner dishes and the men were gathered around the beginnings of a campfire. Arthur took it upon himself to walk towards the tent at the back of the yard, just out of sight of the men and their fire.
“BOO!” Arthur yelled to five squealing kids. When they realized it was just the nice old man they stopped and a couple of the girls giggled. Lucy told him, “Mr. Nader! You scared us! You could have been a real monster!” The kids all started to giggle as Arthur made a funny face at them.
“A monster? Oh I’m no monster my dear.Sleep tight, don’t let the devil bite.” Arthur sang out to the children as he turned away.
“Bedbugs.” It was Shelby’s sweet melodic voice. “Don’t let the bedbugs bite Mr. Nader.”
Arthur hesitated, looking back over his shoulder. “Right… Right… Bedbugs. Good night kiddos.” He made his way to the kitchen to see Deena before he’d make his way home.
“That was a great meal Deena, I thank you very much for having me.” He looked into her green eyes. He loved green eyes. It was the very same eyes that sweet Shelby had.
“Well we’re glad you came to join us Art, is that OK? That I call you Art?” She was polite enough to ask.
“Of course Dear, you can call me Art, just don’t call me late for dinner.” He laughed, exposing yellowing crooked teeth. It gave Deena the willies.
“OK, well, have a good night Art.” She ushered him out feeling suddenly uncomfortable.
“You too my dear.” He responded melodically. While he walked away he licked his lips nervously and uncontrollably. Like a man who hasn’t had a drink in days. He felt that excitement again. The excitement that made him keep going.
Arthur retired to his bed that night thinking of the faces and eyes of Deena and young Shelby. He imagined restraining them and looking deeply into those hypnotizing green eyes. He bent down to reach the box. His special box. Inside he removed a lock of blonde curly hair and inhaled deeply. He placed it back in the box and removed another lock of hair, and another, and another. Smelling them all individually. It brought back so many fond memories. The faces of children smiling, laughing, crying, dying. So much joy.
That night Arthur would pass away in his sleep but not before being visited by each of his victims. Mostly little girls with a few mothers sprinkled in. In his last moments, he thought about his son, Ethan. He thanked him for being a good son. He shared a special bond with his son that not many men get to experience with their sons.
Once the body was found and removed, police found the box of trinkets Arthur had kept for so long. Photos of little girls, locks of hair, and most disturbing of all, several human eyeballs. Perfectly preserved in little containers. It would take Forensics and Missing Persons a while to figure out who each individual victim was. One thing they found however was a photo, a little blurry, but it was clear who it was. Carrie Popov.
When the news of his father’s death reached Ethan overseas, he was eager to get home. He had a box of his own that needed burying.
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A different kind of coming of age movie. Two sisters, Justine and Alexia, are attending Veterinary school, the same school their parents attended. This is Justine’s first year. After having been raised vegetarian, the young freshman gets a taste for meat, boys and flesh.
What I Thought
After watching Titane (2021) I was intrigued enough to check out some of Julia Ducournau’s other work. I kept hearing about Raw so I finally sat down to watch it and I was exceptionally impressed.
This film is full of symbolism so don’t take everything at face value. That’s the beauty with Ducournau’s writing. One could argue that the real subject here is not actually cannibalism, but rather, becoming a woman. The changes in your body, in your mentality, noticing and feeling the consequences of your actions and coming into your carnal sexuality. Justine develops lustful feelings for her dormmate and best (gay) friend, the handsome Adrien, which result in some very memorable scenes. Hauntingly poignant scenes. Scenes you won’t soon forget.
Ducournau takes a different approach to this taboo subject. It’s not gory for gore’s sake. It serves purpose and the focal point is not on the actions themselves, but rather the characters’ reactions to the horrific things happening around them.
Yes, it’s graphic. That being said, it’s done exceptionally well. Having watched other cannibal genre films I can honestly say, this is far superior than others. It has a well written and engaging story. Watching the controlled straight “A” Justine slowly lose control of herself as the film progresses was harrowing. The immersive atmosphere, the flawless performances of both the female leads, Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf, the impeccable writing of Ducournau, and the subject material will hook you in even if you think it won’t. I didn’t pause this movie once. I found myself enthralled in the story, biting my fingers, (no pun intended), mesmerized by the lead actress, and feeling real empathy for Justine. Whenever she did something shocking or horrific, I wasn’t disturbed, instead I found myself feeling intense compassion for her.
The relationship between the two sisters gave me real Ginger Snaps vibes. Essentially one cannot exist without the other, even if they’re slowly destroying each other. The relationship itself was raw and visceral. Alexia, the older of the two, resents Justine’s brilliance and the fact that she’s the favorite daughter; at the same time she holds intense love for her and wants to help her.
This is one of those movies you won’t easily forget. That’s what I’m beginning to love about Ducournau’s work. It’s evocative, moving and just hauntingly beautiful. The ending of the film ties the whole movie together in a shockingly scandalous manner. My jaw literally dropped. Exceptional writing and exquisite acting mixed with a unique twist on the coming of age trope makes this a standout in the genre. Everything you’re looking for in a horror movie. Go back and check it out!
Where to find it
Crave, Starz, Apple iTunes, Google Play, YouTube.
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Alexia is an emotionally disturbed child who grows into an emotionally unhinged adult. After suffering a car accident as a child, a titanium plate is fitted into Alexia’s skull. After the surgery, she rejects her parents and forges an unhealthy relationship with the car that almost killed her. Heavy tones of mechaphilia in this film, which is where one has an intimate, sexual relationship with a mechanical item such as a car or another type of machine. This obsession leads Alexia down a bizarre and dark path.
What I Thought
I loved it. This was one of the most unique movies I’ve ever seen. The premise may sound bizarre but the movie really delivers, and frankly, I can’t stop thinking about it. Agathe Rousselle (Alexia) was captivating. She starts off as a model/dancer; auto shows are her specialty. She’s a seductive and dangerous loner. She sports a tattoo between her breasts that reads, “Love is a Dog From Hell.” This leads the viewer to understand that no one really gets close to Alexia. She’s emotionally detached and compulsive, both sexually and violently. Prone to brutal outbursts and leaving a trail of bodies in her wake, Alexia alters her appearance and picks up a new name going on the run. She assumes the identity of a boy who’s been missing for 20 years. The boy’s father, Vincent (Vincent London), overcome with grief and emotional problems of his own, accepts Alexia as his long lost son. The two form a bond offering Alexia the unconditional love and care she never experienced as a child. Will she be able to change? Will Vincent still accept her even when he learns the truth? Alexia is hiding a big secret and her body is going through unforeseen physical changes because of it. How long can she keep it up?
The body horror aspect isn’t just about the extreme murders she commits, it’s also about the physical changes Alexia endures, which mirror the emotional changes and growth she’s experiencing. Even though the movie is pretty gory in parts it serves the story. It’s not gore for gore’s sake. I find Ducournau (Raw 2016) exceptional in the body horror genre because she takes the approach of focusing on the character rather than the gore. It’s really about how the character is coping with horrific and often shocking changes.
The movie was so well rounded. It truly had everything you’re looking for in a horror movie. A solid unique story that flows well, impeccable acting, haunting imagery, disturbing scenes and flawless direction.
This is a movie you truly need to see for yourself. You won’t see anything like it this year- I promise you. I’m touting this as the first great watch, for me, for 2022. I liked it so much that I went and watched Ducournau’s Raw immediately after. Stay tuned for that review. This isn’t just another horror movie, it was thought-provoking, enthralling and just stunning to watch. It explores urges, vulnerabilities, grief and sexuality in a way I haven’t seen done before. Definitely a must watch.
Where to find it
Now available to buy or rent through Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Apple iTunes
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24 directors from around the world, 24 short films. 24 different stories that take a stab at the darker aspects of the holiday season. Set up like an advent calendar, it takes the viewer through different genres of horror gift-wrapped in a two hour and 25 minute adventure.
What I Thought
Kind of long, but fun. I love horror anthologies. This could easily find itself into my annual holiday rotation. From the stunning and beautifully orchestrated opening, you know you’re in for something special.
I liked some stories better than others but overall I thought it was well presented. It reminded me of some sort of Christmas Twilight Zone. It’s not like other holiday horror movies that often center on a slasher, psycho, an evil Santa or some cheesy holiday lesson. It’s properly different.
A German boy greedily obsessed with the chocolates inside advent calendars meets his dreadful fate.
A retail shopping experience goes from bad to worse- brutally and humorously.
Christmas carolers are forced to carol until the end of time.
An ice-skating tryst turns unexpectedly gruesome.
A man meeting his in-laws for the first time turns into something you will never expect.
I really couldn’t wait for the next chapter.
At times I found myself laughing, at other times- horrified. Overall, an enjoyable watch.
There’s really something for every horror fan from every culture in this movie. If you don’t enjoy one story, wait a few minutes for the next. Beautifully animated sequences surrounding an advent calendar link together each individual story offering a full holiday horror experience. That being said, go in with expectations similar to that of a low budget indie movie and you’ll have fun.
Where to find it
Prime, Apple, TubiTV and VOD
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Loosely based on a real Sicilian urban legend, five strangers mysteriously crash their rideshare camper into a tree while trying to avoid a dead animal carcass. Finding themselves inexplicably in the middle of the woods surrounded by forest and no road, they must fight to survive.
What I Thought
The English dub was done well. The acting was good, particularly the lead actress, Matilda Lutz (Rings 2017, Revenge 2017) who gave a killer performance. I liked the story idea, and being a big fan of Italian horror movies I went in with high expectations that fell short slightly. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. The story felt a little fragmented, the characters underdeveloped, and the end message wasn’t totally clear.
All in all, a decent watch for horror fans, three out of five. Definitely worth a Sunday (not Saturday night) viewing. There were plenty of intense moments, an unexpected plot twist that became a twist inside of a twist, and a couple of things I didn’t expect.
However, there were A LOT of horror tropes presented all at once. It felt like De Feo and Strippoli found a horror movie checklist and went through ticking off boxes as they filmed. The first half of the movie is better than the second half when you’re not really sure what’s happening. I also expected a little more character development. Why have five strangers from different backgrounds and not explore that a little more? The title would have you believe it’s paying homage to a specific genre or era. I felt some serious Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Midsommar vibes but it’s not really clear what genre of horror this movie is playing homage to, if any. It’s simply a bold title.
That being said, the movie was paced well, technically presented well, and the story was interesting enough to keep me watching. It had some fun moments but I think it could have been scarier and gorier than it was.
Where to find it
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Director: William Eubank (Signal 2014, Underwater 2020)
What its about
A young woman decides to document the search for her mother after being abandoned at birth. The journey takes Margot and her crew of two into a remote Amish community looking for answers. We quickly learn this is no ordinary Amish community.
What I Thought
No, it doesn’t follow the original story. It’s related in title only. This is an independent story
with a similar found-footage style, but it’s not completely found-footage like the others, which was strange. I’ve heard this movie being described as a lower budget version of Midsommar.
The story flows fairly well and the characters are adequately developed for empathy with a little bit of humour. We genuinely want Margot to find her answers and be reunited with her long-lost family.
The story, although unique and enjoyable, primarily leans heavily on jump scares. A LOT of jump scares. It’s not until the third act of the film, where everything unfolds for the viewer, where it gets bloody and good. Although it doesn’t really feel like a Paranormal Activity film, the story and camera work was still engaging enough to keep me watching. Some pretty cool camera shots in this one.
I liked it.
If you can get past the fact that this doesn’t follow the storylines of the first six PA movies, it’s not TOTALLY found-footage, and see it as it’s own story, it’s actually pretty good. Not sure how they decided this would be part of the PA franchise, but it’s still worth a watch.
3.5/5. I’d even watch it again.
Where to find it
Available on Prime Video
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