Category Archives: Horror

They’re coming to get you, Barbera.

Pet Sematary (2019) Movie Review

The 1989 Pet Sematary film is insane. By today’s standards, it is a dated horror aesthetic, and its scare factor is minimal. But its climax is a circus act of violent hilarity.

It makes for a good campy half of a Stephen King double feature, which is how I first came upon the film. Juxtaposing it with Kubrick’s The Shining may have caused some tonal whiplash, but that only amplified the enjoyment of seeing an undead child prey upon a rural family and their neighbor, played by the often imitated yet inimitable (sorry John Lithgow) Fred Gwynne.

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Confusion washed over me when I first saw the trailer for Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Pet Sematary remake. What tone could this film possibly strike that would grant it success? The original was not Continue reading Pet Sematary (2019) Movie Review

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Us (2019) Movie Review

Jordan Peele understands the horror movie industry. Given he came out of the Blumhouse label with his directorial debut, the massively successful Get Out, this is no controversial statement. But his adept understanding of what works and doesn’t work about a horror film does not end at Jason Blum’s low-risk, high-reward model.

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Peele has been transparent about his horror influences, and it is clear with Get Out and Us that he knows how to Continue reading Us (2019) Movie Review

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Movie Review

“Velvet Buzzsaw” refers to the former punk band of art manager Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo), a music group that became outmoded and slipped into what former street artist Damrish (Daveed Diggs) calls “self-parody.”

Velvet Buzzsaw, the latest from Dan Gilroy, has similar punk rock ambitions that bleed easily into self-parody. Or maybe it’s just parody.

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In its opening gambit, Buzzsaw sees a swirl of well-to-do art types at a Miami gallery exhibition. Manager Jon Dondon (Tom Sturridge) is trying to poach veteran artist Piers (John Malkovich) from Rhodora, while Rhodora courts Damrish. Critic Morf Vanderwalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) pauses from making passing critiques at pieces to stare agog at Continue reading Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Movie Review

Escape Room (2019) Movie Review

“Try doing one thing that scares you over break,” says a college professor to Zoey (Taylor Russell) after completing one of those let’s-open-our-movie-with-a-class-scene lectures. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where the teacher is somehow talking about the exact thing the movie is about, or otherwise is planting a piece of crucial information in the student’s head. The ones that never actually feel like they are real classroom discussions.

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This is the start of Escape Room, a film about the trendy entertainment exhibits where groups of people are trapped inside a room and must find clues and solve puzzles to get out. But the danger of Continue reading Escape Room (2019) Movie Review

Overlord (2018) Movie Review

On June 6, 1944,  the dawn of D-Day, a plane of American soldiers are crossing over enemy lines with a crucial assignment: take down a German bunker sited under a church tower so the military fly boys can give cover to the boats landing on the beaches. As we learn this mission, sitting in the rattling confines of the flyer where characters’ voices are muffled under the constant thrum of the war around them, the plane is shot out of the air. The few survivors must pick up the pieces of the fractured mission and carry on, knowing that failure to set explosives on the tower could mean the failure of the entire D-Day operation.

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Oh, and there are Nazi zombies, as well.

Overlord, the new film from Julius Avery and produced by J.J. Abrams, takes the concept of insidious WWII Mengele-inspired experimentation and broadens it to horror genre extremes. B-movie horror extremes, in particular.

Now, to call this Continue reading Overlord (2018) Movie Review

Halloween (2018) Movie Review

The Halloween property is one of the longest-running slasher franchises in American history. That’s what happens when your film sits on the forefront of a nascent subgenre, ultimately becoming the prototype for what will flood the horror market in the subsequent two decades. The creation of John Carpenter and Debra Hill has seen a 40-year career of continuity-shifting sequels and reboots.

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Predominantly, and subjectively, the Halloween franchise has more duds than successes. Following the restrained, moody eeriness of Halloween, the series slipped into sequels that Continue reading Halloween (2018) Movie Review

Mandy (2018) Movie Review

Should I start with “Cheddar Goblin”? Or does that warrant its own article?

Mandy is the second film from writer-director Panos Cosmatos, his follow up to the 2010 film Beyond the Black Rainbow. It is a hazy dream of a film—a dream or a nightmare, depending on your perspective. At times, it spins inside an LSD vision alongside its drug-addled characters. Other times, it is a ’70s-inspired exploitation splatter flick. On both accounts, Cosmatos imbues the rural forest landscape with a fantasy quality. Even as fantastical elements are granted real-world explanations, the characters feel as if they are trapped in a psychedelic snowglobe of cosmic mayhem.

It’s pretty badass.

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The eponymous Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) lives with her partner Red (Nicolas Cage), a grizzled lumberjack with a penchant for terrible jokes, in a cottage deep within the forests near the Shadow Mountains. She sketches drawings, reads fantasy novels, and is fascinated by astronomy. Together, the couple lounges through their nights watching B-movies.

Their isolated existence, though, is shattered by a Continue reading Mandy (2018) Movie Review