Tag Archives: Horror

Old (M. Night Shyamalan, 2021)

Adapted from Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frédérik Peeters’ graphic novel Sandcastle, M. Night Shyamalan’s Old takes a Twilight Zone-esque premise to wickedly entertaining, gruesome and occasionally touching places…

Full review for SciFiNow

Fear Street: 1666 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

In covering each entry in director Leigh Janiak’s interconnected Fear Street trilogy as they drop weekly on Netflix, it’s been relatively easy to be vague with plot details. That said, the fun and freaky final instalment, subtitled 1666, is near impossible to discuss without spoiling some threads left dangling from parts one and two. So, to paraphrase Fear Street author RL Stine’s better-known horror series, reader beware…

Full review for Little White Lies

Fear Street: 1978 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

The 1994-set first part of Leigh Janiak’s RL Stine trilogy saw teenagers stalked by several undead mass murderers from their seemingly cursed town’s history. It established that these homicidal outbursts across 300-plus years were the work of suspected witch Sarah Fier, a woman killed in 1666, possessing unsuspecting Shadysiders every so often from beyond the grave, as a means of revenge against the town.

Extinguishing their specific nightmare problem in part one, the surviving characters were then left on a cliff-hanger when one of their own became Fier’s latest victim of possession. The second film’s framing device sees her friends turn to the only local who might believe them. C Berman (Gillian Jacobs, selling two decades of trauma in only a few scenes) is a scarred, nihilistic survivor of the ‘Camp Nightwing Massacre’ of 1978. In its immediate aftermath she spoke of Fier’s involvement, but no one would listen. Berman was said to have briefly died, before resuscitation, while her sister was among the slain…

Full review for Little White Lies

Fear Street: 1994 (Leigh Janiak, 2021)

Pre-global pandemic, a gamble was taken with a trilogy of gory films loosely based on YA-horror series Fear Street by RL Stine, all directed and co-written by Leigh Janiak. Twentieth Century Studios (née Fox) was originally set to distribute these three interconnected movies, each set in a different time period, in cinemas across three consecutive months in the summer of 2020.

With theatrical distribution disrupted that same year, production company Chernin Entertainment sold their experiment to Netflix, with the streaming giant now releasing the trilogy across three consecutive weeks. First up is the 1994-set film, directly inspired by that decade’s slasher genre revival, and it will be followed by trips to 1978 and 1666…

Full review for Little White Lies

Ben Wheatley on pandemic-shot horror ‘In the Earth’

“We were the first people back and – whether it’s true or not – we really felt like the eyes of production were on us across the board.”

Writer-director Ben Wheatley is speaking to The Skinny over Zoom about In the Earth, the horror feature he wrote during the first few weeks of the COVID pandemic and shot with a small crew over 15 days in the early summer, as the UK came out of its initial lockdown period.

While Hollywood blockbusters with hired studio spaces – such as Jurassic World: Dominion – were able to resume shooting in the UK last summer after they had to hit pause, In the Earth was among the very first low budget productions to get going in late June 2020. And being first off the blocks had its pressures…

Full interview for The Skinny

10 great horror sequels

One is the loneliest number in the world of horror movies. As cinemas welcome A Quiet Place Part II, we celebrate some of the best first sequels…

Full feature for the BFI

I Blame Society (Gillian Wallace Horvat, 2020)

Gillian Wallace Horvat’s 2015 short film Kiss Kiss Fingerbang, a Grand Jury Award winner at SXSW, was the kind of distinctively dark calling card that might ordinarily lead to ample directing offers. At least, going by the success stories of so many genre-inclined filmmakers (most of them men), that’s what should have happened.

Judging from interviews supporting the release of I Blame Society, the micro-budget film that has ended up being Horvat’s debut feature, this is not what happened – and her pitch black, metatextual mockumentary certainly feels like a response to this. Crucially, it’s not a case of a filmmaker demanding that we worship the artistic genius that The Man failed to recognise, through the medium of a didactic feature-length performance art-criticism hybrid.

What it does do is explore the various microaggressions that are rampant within American film production, on both the independent and studio sides, that can lead to marginalised voices being denied the same seat at the table as their (predominantly) white male peers, despite the supposed efforts of those already at the table to be more inclusive. Oh, and I Blame Society is also a serial killer movie…

Full review for Little White Lies

Murder Me, Monster (Alejandro Fadel, 2018)

Appreciators of Amat Escalante’s The Untamed and Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux – Latin American social dramas that toy with horror to varying degrees – may find a new work to admire in Murder Me, Monster from writer/director Alejandro Fadel. It’s a Spanish-language international co-production set around the Andes Mountains, and features a similar fusion of libidinal imagery and arguably Lovecraftian terror to that of Escalante’s film, in particular…

Full review for Little White Lies

The Babysitter: Killer Queen (McG, 2020)

In humour and topsy-turvy aesthetic, McG’s The Babysitter proved a surprise word-of-mouth success for Netflix. It was bolstered by a few key notes of merit. The first is that it was undeniably a crucial stepping stone for the star ascent of Samara Weaving, whose first major American role – at least in terms of filming date, more on that later – was as the eponymous character, a loving guardian for nervous pre-teen Cole (Judah Lewis) who turns out to actually be the leader of a devil-worshipping cult, looking to use her innocent ward’s blood for a ritual that will supposedly grant one’s deepest desires.

Second was a theoretically interesting theme concerning how, to kids on the cusp of puberty, older teenagers can have this air of terror, intrigue and incomprehensibility about them that is hypnotising – part of how Cole gets himself into the mess he does is because he wants to see what cool babysitter Bee gets up to with her friends when he’s supposed to be asleep.

Third, peppered throughout The Babysitter was a genuinely quite sweet subplot about Cole’s developing relationship with his best friend and neighbour Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind). In the final half hour of The Babysitter, Cole flees to Melanie’s house as Bee fires at him with a shotgun she swiped while disposing of a cop car and the bodies of two police officers her crew killed. Melanie’s own father is reportedly away on a date with a “protestant”, so, with no adults around to defend them, the pair end up hiding from Bee trying to find them in Melanie’s house.

Once she’s left, Cole tries to make sure Melanie is safe before he goes back to his house to face Bee and his fears. Melanie kisses him, telling him: “Just because she’s a psychopath doesn’t mean women are evil.” Boosted by this romantic development and Melanie’s suggestion they should make out next time, Cole heads back and takes out the remainder of the cult. This includes returning to swipe Melanie’s dad’s car to drive into both Bee and his own house, something the film shows Melanie supporting both as and after it happens.

Fast forward to The Babysitter: Killer Queen, the 2020 sequel with a title that seems to have been chosen on the basis of whatever the most expensive song on the soundtrack was, rather than much to do with the story. Despite two police officers called to the scene that night going missing (you’d think that would be a big deal), no one in the film’s world believes anything about Cole’s account of the first film’s events, except for Melanie who at least witnessed Bee brandishing a shotgun around her house.

A more fantastical film that confirms all the ritual business is real, Killer Queen brings back practically everyone from the first outing, including the deceased cult characters played by Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Andrew Bachelor and Hana Mae Lee, who are resurrected from limbo for another chance at performing the ritual, something that can apparently only happen every two years. Samara Weaving’s Bee is also back, eventually, but since she’s become a much bigger deal of late and was filming both Bill & Ted Face the Music and the currently delayed GI Joe spin-off Snake Eyes when Killer Queen was being shot, adjustments had to be made for this direct continuation…

Full review for VODzilla.co