Category Archives: Horror

They’re coming to get you, Barbera.

Scream VI (2023) Movie Review

Scream VI, as one of the film’s own characters tells us, is a “requel sequel” — i.e., a sequel to a franchise reboot which also follows some, if not all, of the continuity of the original film(s). We have been seeing many of these in the horror genre lately (and we are scheduled to see even more), so this is good territory for a “requel sequel” of Hollywood’s favorite meta-horror franchise to interrogate. Unfortunately, this interrogation falls flats.

This film picks up where the last one left off, with the two surviving sisters of the last Woodsboro murder spree, Tara and Sam Carpenter (Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera), relocating to Continue reading Scream VI (2023) Movie Review

The Collingswood Story (2002) is the First Screenlife Movie

This is the second installment in our “Psychotronic Cinema” series. (What is psychotronic cinema?)

The Collingswood Story has received something of a new lease on life with the continuing trend of “Screenlife” movies. Films which take place entirely on digital screen spaces find their origin point in 2002 with Collingswood. Though not Screenlife in the “pure” sense of taking place entirely on a screen (it’s maybe at 95%), Collingswood makes use of emergent technology in a relatively novel way – blocky early-2000s desktop aesthetic and all. A pandemic-era film like Host owes a great deal to this film, whose video chat technology amplifies a mood of isolation and loneliness.

Separate the film from its novelty, though, and Collingswood does not Continue reading The Collingswood Story (2002) is the First Screenlife Movie

Infinity Pool (2023) Movie Review

While I do find myself saying it quite often, I think “third act problems” is a strange statement. In most cases, a third act problem probably originates as a first or second act problem, as in, something needs to be resolved in the third act for the film to work and that does not happen. The third act reveals the problem, but it was an underlying structural problem that carries over across acts.

I make this distinction to say that Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool has major third act problems, but that these problems pertain to the film’s overall structure.

Cronenberg’s Possessor was my favorite horror movie of 2020. It is the type of film that does not give clarity to every angle of its story, but the overall Continue reading Infinity Pool (2023) Movie Review

Sick (2023) Movie Review

John Hyam’s Sick does one thing; thankfully, it does that thing pretty well.

Hyam’s previous film, Alone, was a similarly straightforward piece of genre formalism. Both films share the same singular goal: shoot people in peril. Unlike Alone, Sick comes with horror genre royalty in its byline. Kevin Williamson’s first feature screenplay since Scream 4, Sick is a cabin in the woods style slasher in the time of Covid. It is April 2020, and two college students (Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million) decide to quarantine together at a fancy, isolated cabin. And, as anyone who’s seen a horror film will already be well aware, no one is truly alone in an isolated cabin at night.

The first hour of this 84-minute film consists almost entirely of young people being stalked violently by an anonymous, knife-wielding killer. Unlike the other Williamson property this brings to mind, though, Sick is Continue reading Sick (2023) Movie Review

M3GAN (2023) Movie Review

Nothing says kicking off a new year at the movies quite like an AI-driven robot toy singing a haunting lullaby rendition of a Sia song a few hours after said robot violently attacks a mopey child bully.

Before the pandemic caused the movie industry to throw out the playbook on theatrical releases, January was a month notorious for its low-quality new releases. Traditionally, January fare includes Continue reading M3GAN (2023) Movie Review

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 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