Category Archives: Horror

They’re coming to get you, Barbera.

Ready or Not (2019) Movie Review

You’ve never met in-laws like this.

I imagine the pitch to Fox Searchlight for the new horror comedy Ready or Not started somewhere along the lines of that. Writers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy may have thrown in some talk of a satire of the 1%, a bloody R-rated horror film with potential mainstream appeal, crossbows, and/or a board game-based “dominion.”

Busick and Murphy’s script begins with a wedding. But there isn’t a lot of champagne and doves at this wedding. Looming under the shadow of the Le Domas mansion, Grace (Samara Weaving) and Alex (Mark O’Brien) are Continue reading Ready or Not (2019) Movie Review

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) Movie Review

The short story series created by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell, which begins with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, is beloved by some, infamous to others. Ostensibly a children’s book of campfire folk tales retold, the book often received criticism for Gammell’s illustrations, these shaded sketches of wispy, gangly, grotesque creatures and corpses.

As a child, these illustrations fascinated me, and they still hold up for me today as being some of the best art in children’s books. (Also high on that list would be Brett Helquist’s cover art for the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Interestingly enough, Helquist went on to do illustrations for the re-release edition of Scary Stories in 2011. People were understandably unhappy with the changes, but the art is still good in its own right).

A film adaptation of Schwartz’ books had been in the works for some time. Guillermo del Toro worked on Continue reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) Movie Review

Crawl (2019) Movie Review

Crawl must have been a terror to shoot. Taking place in Florida during a hurricane, nearly every scene in the film is drenched. The actors are consistently wet and trudging through waist-high water. Rain is constantly falling. The water budget on this thing must have been massive.

And for what?

kaya-scodelario-in-crawl-2019

Alexandre Aja has made a name for himself in the horror community, but when I look at his filmography I’m hard-pressed to understand how. I understand this may draw the ire of Continue reading Crawl (2019) Movie Review

Midsommar (2019) Movie Review

Ari Aster does not care if you’re comfortable. If his first two films are any indication, it appears that he prefers the opposite. With his debut, Hereditary, Aster approached grief with a macabre twist that winds up making the weight of grief seem feathery by comparison.

With Midsommar, Aster approaches grief with a macabre twist that winds up making the weight of grief seem…am I repeating myself?

Aster’s two films take staid, empty, and largely silent burdens and makes them bleed into

Continue reading Midsommar (2019) Movie Review

Child’s Play (2019) Movie Review

Lars Klevberg and Tyler Burton Smith’s Child’s Play is not so much a reboot or remake. It is more of a new film with a Chucky skin layered on. The Child’s Play brand is well-known. Killer children’s doll kills. A simple premise.

Smith’s script changes many aspects surrounding this premise. The Buddi toy, even though it looks like a doll from the late ’80s, is a toy for the modern era. It is a home-connecting device, voice activated like a Google Home or an Amazon Alexa. It connects to your television, stereo, electrical system, etc.

Chucky (Mark Hamill), the doll in question, is gifted to teenage Andy (Gabriel Bateman) by his mother (Aubrey Plaza), who works at the return counter of the Zed Mart that is stuffed to the brim with Buddi dolls. Instead of being possessed by the soul of a ruthless killer, however, this Chucky is Continue reading Child’s Play (2019) Movie Review

The Dead Don’t Die (2019) Movie Review

This is not the elegant, professional way to start a review, but I’ve got to do it. The way that a zombie’s head explodes in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die…boy, that’s something. Why, before now, have I never seen a zombie movie where the zombie’s dried-out corpse body spews purple dust blood? Just clouds of misting blood all over the frame. I love it.

Anyway…I guess I’ve got a review to write.

Jim Jarmusch is an idiosyncratic filmmaker. His previous film, Paterson, was a quiet and reserved meditation on life and art. His follow up to that is…a zombie film? And it has Continue reading The Dead Don’t Die (2019) Movie Review

Climax (2019) Movie Review

Gaspar Noe is nothing if not an indulgent filmmaker. Visceral is a word often associated with his work. But he can go deeper, to the bone, when his work is at its most mature.

With Climax, Noe toes a line of maturity in filmmaking that can be difficult to parse. From one angle, his visual-forward approach to the film hearkens back to notions of a pure cinema. Aspects of colored flood lighting, minimal set dressing, deliberate camera work, and character movement take precedence over dialogue and plotting.

From a different angle, Noe is unable to fully divorce himself from superficial depictions of sensational horrors. The result of this is Continue reading Climax (2019) Movie Review