Category Archives: Horror

They’re coming to get you, Barbera.

The Third Saturday in October Parts 1 and 5 — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

So often in horror, people want to return to the past. Netflix’s Stranger Things reinvigorated the ’80s aesthetic. The new Halloween films hearken back to the 1970s look. Et cetera. This backward-looking adoration is all well and good. I can appreciate a good pastiche.

Jay Burleson’s The Third Saturday in October sets its backward-looking eyes on sleazy, regional horror of the late 1970s. It borrows its opening title narration from Texas Chainsaw and much of its plotting from Halloween. Positioned as a “lost” film, it comes off like the latest Vinegar Syndrome or AGFA release — a glossy remaster of a hazy, decidedly non-glossy 1979 low-budget slasher.

The emulation of the ’70s aesthetic is pretty handily nailed, from the floral pajamas to the wood-paneled walls to the excessive fog and southern-fried haze. And the film is Continue reading The Third Saturday in October Parts 1 and 5 — Fantastic Fest 2022 Movie Review

The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre

This is installment one in “The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre.” The series, a career retrospective on the works of parody film writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, aims to put their heavily maligned work into perspective. Why were their films equally successful and hated? And why did the pair disappear from Hollywood? Moreover, can anything good be said for the directors, whose films are widely considered to be some of the worst of all time.

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer achieved their first credit as a writing team on Spy Hard, the 1996 Leslie Nielsen espionage spoof. Their names appeared in the credits for the hit horror parody Scary Movie. Then, they went on to write and direct some of the worst comedy movies of the 21st century. Date Movie. Epic Movie. Disaster Movie. Meet the Spartans. Vampires Suck. The Starving Games.

Let’s not dwell on these parody clunkers, though. Not yet, at least. Let’s begin with Scary Movie, a very successful film that had a hand in reinvigorating the parody genre for a new generation. It launched a franchise. It launched the career of Anna Faris. It was truly influential in steering the broad comedy into the 21st century, at least in the short term.

Scary Movie was an ambitious pitch. Not because it was a parody of the entire slasher genre with the audacity of having a name as blunt as Scary Movie. But because it is a beat-for-beat broad comedy re-enactment of Scream, which had already Continue reading The Friedberg-Seltzer Massacre: How Two Men Single-Handedly Destroyed the Parody Genre

Glorious (2022) Movie Review

Imagine being trapped in a road stop bathroom with a Lovecraftian creature that has the voice of J.K. Simmons. Congratulations, you have found yourself in Glorious, the cosmic horror indie where there’s no toilet paper or paper towels but enough gooey surprises to satisfy some.

Rebekah McKendry’s film cloaks a character drama underneath the cosmic tellings of its mysterious visitor (whose name is as difficult to spell as it is for protagonist Wes to say, so I’ll just hold my tongue). As the ethereal mythology of Simmons’ creature is divulged, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is weighed down by memories of his ex-wife. All the while, Wes must decide whether to continue trying to escape or help the thing on the other side of the stall door.

The first act of Glorious comes off like a character trying to have a conversation with Continue reading Glorious (2022) Movie Review

2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Megalomaniac, Incredible But True, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra

Megalomaniac, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra and Incredible But True are screening as part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs from July 14 – August 3.

Megalomaniac

Megalomaniac is the bleakest film I’ve seen at this year’s Fantasia (and I also watched Speak No Evil, so that’s a high bar to clear). In the case of Speak No Evil, I could better stomach the Continue reading 2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Megalomaniac, Incredible But True, The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra

Review: Speak No Evil — Fantasia Festival 2022

Bjorn (Morten Burian) and Louise (Sidsel Siem Koch) are on holiday in Tuscany with their daughter (Liva Forsberg), where they meet a Dutch family of similar makeup. They share a day or two together and then part ways. Back home in Denmark, Bjorn and Louise receive a postcard from their newfound acquaintances with an invitation to come stay in the family’s home in Holland. They agree, and slowly, methodically, this second vacation becomes one of nightmares.

For the first significant stretch of Speak No Evil, everything reads exceedingly normal, almost unremarkable. Save for that foreboding score. And that Continue reading Review: Speak No Evil — Fantasia Festival 2022

Review: Skinamarink — Fantasia Festival 2022

I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There’s so much visual noise in these dark shots that you have to squint just to make out the outline of objects in the frame. Camera placement is often very low or very high, capturing fragments of doorways and hallways. A child hits his head, we’re told, but he won’t require stitches. 15 minutes go by before we see a room in this house fully illuminated. The light at the top of the steps clicks off. Darkness. The boy calls out for his father. No answer. Continue reading Review: Skinamarink — Fantasia Festival 2022

2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Sissy, Deadstream, The Girl From the Other Side

The Girl From the Other Side, Sissy, and Deadstream are screening as part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs from July 14 – August 3.

The Girl From the Other Side

The Girl From the Other Side is a ruminative fairy tale about isolation and family. In a place divided by “inner” and “outer” lands, humans fear the curse given when touched by Continue reading 2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Sissy, Deadstream, The Girl From the Other Side

2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Mutant Action, Dr. Lamb, Blue Sunshine

Mutant Action, Dr. Lamb and Blue Sunshine are screening as part of the Fantasia Retro series at the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Acción Mutante (Mutant Action)

Álex de la Iglesia’s Mutant Action looks like it owes a debt to the works of Paul Verhoeven. The tale of a fringe terrorist group made up of “mutants” is set against the backdrop of Continue reading 2022 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Mutant Action, Dr. Lamb, Blue Sunshine

Crimes of the Future (2022) Movie Review

The near-future of Crimes of the Future is marked by the progression of medical technology. And the progression of human evolution in the form of biological mutations. For some, vestigial organs and appendages serve as performance art pieces. Inner beauty takes on new meaning in a world like this. Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Lea Seydoux) have grown a reputation in the art world by performing live surgeries, during which Caprice removes useless organs which Tenser’s body spontaneously produces.

It is also implied that, in this future, “surgery is the new sex.” People’s tolerance for pain has drastically increased. Tenser remains wide awake as Caprice uses a mechanical autopsy machine to open his Continue reading Crimes of the Future (2022) Movie Review

Men (2022) Movie Review

I have a distinct feeling that Alex Garland planted things in Men, the writer-director’s new film starring Jessie Buckley and a bevy of Rory Kinnears, which I have not entirely picked up on. Namely, allusions to religion and mythology which fly outside my knowledge structures. Yet what I did understand about Men, what was left after those allusions are stripped away and narrative and theme remain, was altogether so blunt and superficial that I in moments thought I was watching a parody of a specific breed of arthouse film. A parody of the exact film Men is.

This is not a case of I didn’t understand the film, therefore I don’t like it. On the contrary, Continue reading Men (2022) Movie Review