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.
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.
“This guy keeps following me around. It’s so creepy.” This is, more or less, the opening line of Hell Fest, delivered in voiceover over the opening credits. With this first line, the entire plot of Hell Fest is described. This guy, in a mask, keeps following around the group of people that we are asked to suffer through for 90 minutes. And it is, purportedly, creepy.
Hell Fest is Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse by way of The Houses October Built (note: neither films alluded to are very good). Using a horror-themed amusement park as its setting, people are harassed by Continue reading Hell Fest (2018) Movie Review→
The Nun is the latest entry into the The Conjuring franchise. After a standout appearance in The Conjuring 2, the eponymous demon nun (Bonnie Aarons) is given the standalone treatment. In this iteration, it is Romania in 1952. In the catacombs beneath a rural convent, two nuns approach a door sealed with a wooden beam. Carved in that lock, in Latin, are the words “God ends here.”
On the other side of the door…
Is an evil nun. Can’t imagine it’s a spoiler to mention that.
This cold open, aside from not making a ton of sense given the demon nun Valak’s end goal, establishes the foggy, gloomy atmosphere of the film. One of the nuns, as she runs from Valak, Continue reading The Nun (2018) Movie Review→
I’m going to be transparent about something up front: I’m going to the mat for The First Purge. Not only do I think it is a passable movie, but I think it is the only good Purge film to date.
The Purge is a franchise whose premise showed so much promise from the beginning. An American political system in which an annual event allows all crime to be legal for one night. It has B-movie schlock written all over it.
Why, then, was The Purge a quaint home invasion movie? Sure, it had the high concept marketing gimmick of people in creepy masks (a concept that has reached pique kitsch by the fourth installment). But otherwise it was no different, narratively, from a Funny Games or a Panic Room (both of which: superior artistic efforts than The Purge).
There are some horror movies that make you jump. There are some that make you squirm. There are the rare ones that raise questions about the human condition. And there are the few horror movies that do all three and manage to conjure images that stick unshaken in your head long after you’ve left the theater. Hereditary is of this latter breed.
To be fair, Hereditary does some of these things much more effectively than others. Namely, the questions it raises about the nature of grief and the things we do or do not say about tragedy fall by the wayside when Continue reading Hereditary (2018) Movie Review→
On the last day of Spring Break in Mexico, Olivia (Lucy Hale) is convinced by a man she meets at a bar (Landon Liboiron) to travel to an abandoned and remote convent with her friends. There, the stranger asks them to play an innocent game of truth or dare. One of Olivia’s friends remarks with a flippant comment along the lines of, “What, like we’re in seventh grade?”
Just to be clear, they’re not. The grown adults proceed to play the game in one of the more tonally awkward sequences of Truth or Dare (or Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, an attribution tagged on seemingly due to the success of last year’s Get Out and Happy Death Day). The scene is meant to Continue reading Truth or Dare (2018) Movie Review→
The 2008 horror film The Strangers is, at its essence, a ripoff of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games with a high concept marketing angle (i.e. eerie masks and a crude smiley face logo). Now, 10 years later, we are granted with another high concept sequel, The Strangers: Prey at Night. It is a film that both relies on the weight of its predecessor to get people to see it and expects us to ignore that first film when it attempts the same template.