Looking Forward to 2020’s Horror Films


With 2019 officially in the rear-view (check out my best-of list), it’s time to start focusing on the new year. Below, I’ve included a list of some horror films I’m looking forward to, and as you can see, the trend of remakes and “smart horror” that dominated the first two decades of the 2000s doesn’t appear to be slowing down as we start the 2020s.

1. The Grudge January 3/Directed by  Nicolas Pesce

I’ve made it known before that I’m not a big fan of remakes, and there’s been an onslaught of them over the last 10-15 years. I’m including this one on this list, however, because Pesce’s other movies, Piercing and The Eyes of My Mother are interesting, so I’m cautiously optimistic about this.

2. Underwater January 10/Directed by William Eubank

I don’t know much about this one, other than the fact that it’s a deep-sea horror flick about a research crew who struggles to get to safety after an earthquake destroys their underwater station. Something monstrous lurks on the ocean floor. I’m intrigued.

3. Color Out of Space January 24/Directed by Richard Stanley

This is an adaptation of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most popular stories, and it stars Nicolas Cage, fresh off his performance in Mandy. Need I say more about this one?

4. Gretel & Hansel January 31/Directed by Oz Perkins

I have to confess that when I first saw the trailer for this, I wasn’t that interested. However, when I learned that Oz Perkins was behind the camera on this one, my interest was peaked. If I made a list of my favorite horror films of the last decade, Perkins’ The Blackcoat’s Daughter would be on it. Now, I’m curious as to what he’ll do with this classic tale.

5. The Lodge February 7/Directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala

This is one of the film’s I’m most excited to see, especially after it generated buzz on the festival circuit and earned the cover of the most recent issue of Rue Morgue. It also seems like the perfect mid-winter horror film, based on the synopsis: during a family retreat to a remote winter cabin over the holidays, the father is forced to abruptly depart for work, leaving his two children in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace. Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as terrifying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.


6. The Invisible Man February 28/Directed by Leigh Whannell

This is Universal’s attempt to yet again reboot/revamp their classic monsters. Based on the trailer, however, this looks like an interesting take on the classic H.G. Wells’ story, one that focuses on abuse and trauma. It appears that Elisabeth Moss may give one barn-burning performance in this.


7. A Quiet Place II March 20/ Directed by John Krasinski

A Quiet Place was one of the biggest surprises of 2018 and a box office hit, so, of course there had to be a sequel. Based on the trailer, which dropped on New Years Day, it looks like the second chapter expands upon the world established in the first film.

8. Antlers April 17/Directed by Scott Cooper

I don’t know much about this one, but ever since I saw the trailer, and after I found out this one is being produced by Guillermo del Toro, I’ve been intrigued.


9. Candyman June 12/ directed by Nia Dacosta

There is no trailer for this one yet, and yes, it’s another reboot/remake, but it was written by Jordan Peele, who also produced it. It will also be interesting to have a woman behind the camera for this one. Additionally, this one, like the original, was filmed at Chicago’s Cabrini-Heights neighborhood, which has since been gentrified. Oh, and Tony Todd is returning! Whether or not he’ll play Candyman, that has yet to be seen. This should be a big one.

10. Halloween Kills October 16/Directed by David Gordon Green


You can’t kill the Boogeyman, and you can’t kill Laurie Strode, either! Get ready for more and more Michael, with another sequel set to be released in 2021.

I will note that most of these films are pretty mainstream, and in past years, my favorite movies of the year slipped under the radar until they streamed on places like Hulu or Shudder or were lucky enough to find larger distribution after building buzz. Expect some sleeper hits as we head into the new year. How many people were talking about Hereditary at this point in 2018 or The Witch months before its release? That said, 2020 looks to be a good year for horror with some well-known entities making a return to the big screen alongside some innovative stories that are lucky enough to get wider distribution.

Are there any films you’re most looking forward to this year? Feel free to comment below.


Halloween Streaming Season (Pt. 4)


This is my final post regarding streaming recommendations for the Halloween season. This post will focus on Amazon Prime, only movies that you can stream for free with a membership. You can check out my Hulu recommendations here.,  my Netflix recommendations here, and my Shudder recommendations here.

Let’s get down to business!

Gothic (Directed by Ken Russel, 1986) This is a strange little movie that, in part, recounts the story of the Romantic poets sitting around Lord Byron’s castle and telling each other ghost stories, which is how Mary Shelley found the inspiration for Frankenstein.

Hell House LCC (Directed by Stephen Cognetti, 2016) Since the release of the Blair Witch Project in 1999, there has been a slew of found footage films within the last 20 years. Some are better than others, but Hell House LCC is one of the most  interesting of the last few years and one of the best contemporary films to watch around Halloween. The plot is simple: On October 8th, 2009 a haunted house attraction opened its doors to the public in upstate New York. The entire crew was found dead, except for one. Five years later, a documentary crew found her…and the video footage from inside the house.

The Exorcist III (Directed by William Peter Blaty, 1990) To this day, The Exorcist III doesn’t get the love it deserves. This is a much more philosophical, slow burn film than The Exorcist. There is no preteen spewing pea soup at priests. Instead, this film is more concerned with the nature of good v. evil, but it also has one of the best jump scares in all of horror cinema. Both Brad Dourif, as the Gemini Killer, and Jason Miller, as the tortured Father Karras, give superb performances.

High Tension (Directed by Alexandre Aja, 2005) This is one of the best and still one of the most controversial films of the French Extremity movement from the first decade of the 2000s. It’s also the film that made Aja a director to watch within the horror genre. Before he filmed the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, he filmed this brutal home invasion flick. Saying more about the plot would give too much away. Check it out now.

Shadow of the Vampire (Directed by E. Elias Merhige, 2000) This is a retelling of F.W. Murnau’s classic German Expressionist film Nosferatu, sort of. In this take, John Malkovich plays Murnau and William Dafoe plays the vampire. During filming, people start disappearing, and the surviving cast and crew suspect the vampire may not be acting at all. For anyone who is a fan of the horror genre and film in general, this is a must watch.

Amazon Prime has a number of classics to stream as well, including Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Dario Argeno’s Opera and Inferno, just to name a few.

So this concludes my horror recommendations per streaming service for the Halloween season. If you have any of your own recommendations, please feel free to comment below. Happy Haunting!

Halloween Streaming Season (Pt 2)

As promised, I’m going to offer my recommendations for horror movies that I think you should watch this Halloween season. Last week, I focused on Shudder. This week, I’m offering my Netflix recommendations. Once again, I’m going to stick to films that I think are deserving of more attention. After all, most of you have seen Halloween or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre dozens of times.

Apostle: This feature, directed by Gareth Evans, is not for the squeamish. Set in 1905, the story follows Thomas Richardson’s (Dan Stevens) journey to a remote island to save his sister from a religious cult. There is gore galore and serious folk-horror vibes in this, a-la the original Wicker Man.


Cam: This was one of Netflix’s best horror additions last year. In short, it follows a cam girl (Madeline Brewer) who suddenly realizes that she has a doppelganger willing to be as extreme as necessary to generate more viewers. From there, things get weird…. and weirder.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe: Before he directed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, André Øvredal directed this feature, a 2016 flick about a corpse who may or may not have been a witch and is left in the hands of father and son Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin (Emile Hirsch). This film is heavy on atmosphere, and the scares build and build the more that the duo learn about the young woman and her history. Watch this now if you haven’t yet.


Gerald’s Game: Mike Flanagan is one of the best American horror directors working in the business, and Gerald’s Game is a solid adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a wife, Jessie (Carla Cugino), who is left handcuffed to a bed after her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) has a heart attack. Left for days, Jessie starts to have bizarre and creepy hallucinations

The Blackcoat’s Daughter: Oz Perkins is another director to keep an eye on. This movie is a lot of things- part haunted house story, part possession story. In short, it’s about two girls, Joan (Emma Roberts) and Kat (Kiernan Shipka), who are left alone at their boarding school over winter break and have to battle an evil force. It’s a slow burn, one heavy on mood and bleak tones.


TV worth binging: Everyone knows about Mike Flanagan’s “The Haunting of Hill House” from last year, but I can’t recommend enough the 8-part French series “Marianne.” It deals far more with abject horror and it has some scenes just as horrifying as the bent-neck lady in episode 5 of “Hill House.” “Marianne” is one of the most underrated series released on Netflix this year.

Time to Cue Up the Horror Flicks

Happy October! It’s that time of year when everyone is looking for that one good horror recommendation. First, let me state that if you want some solid suggestions, check out Horror Homeroom or Signal Horizon any day of the week for some of the best insight on contemporary horror.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll offer some suggestions for the major streaming networks. I will keep each list fairly short and try to offer recommendations beyond the usual mainstream fare. First up, I’m focusing on Shudder, the all-horror streaming network owned by AMC and also available through Amazon Prime.


One Cut of the Dead (2019/Directed by Shinichiro Ueda) This Japanese flick is one of the most creative films available anywhere. Even offering too much of a description will give too much away. That said, it rewrites everything you think you know about the zombie narrative, and the closing minutes are one big kiss to independent film-making. It also begins with a 36-minute long continuous shot. Stream this now!

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2019/Directed by Issa Lopez) This Spanish film is beautiful, heartbreaking, and terrifying in its depiction of gang violence in Mexico. The child actors are simply phenomenal, and the fairy tale-like quality is reminiscent of early Guillermo del Toro. This is a must watch and will probably end up on several best-of lists at the end of the year.

Body Bags (1993/Directed by John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Larry Sulkis) This is  a rare anthology featuring three separate stories loaded with celebrity cameos, including Sam Raimi, Wes Craven, Tom Arnold, and John Carpenter as a wise-cracking mortician. Shudder is most likely the only place you’ll be able to watch this, so check it out while you can. It’s a fun horror comedy perfect for this time of year.

Incident in a Ghostland (2018/Directed by Pascal Laugier) This French film by the director of Martyrs is imperfect, especially in its portrayal of trans people, which, in this case, happens to be a one-dimensional central villain. While Incident in a Ghostland may not be as haunting or horrific as Martyrs, it still has a lot to say about trauma and fractured memory. The plot is simple: a mother and her two daughters suffer a terrifying home invasion during the first night in their new home. That story-line, coupled with the visuals, make this a must-watch. Laugier is one of the most interesting directors working in the genre right now.

The Old Dark House (1932/Directed by James Whale) When it comes to Universal’s first golden age in the 1930s, The Old Dark House is sometimes lost in the conversation. Everyone talks about Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and the Universal Monsters in general, but this is one of my favorite films from that era. Whale’s direction here is stellar in creating a creaky old house that travelers stumble upon. Then, they encounter a family with dangerous secrets. There is plenty of subtext to unpack here, and as usual, Karloff is phenomenal. Between Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, Whale created another horror masterpiece.

Other contemporary films to stream: Satan’s Slaves, The Witch in the Window, Terrified (a must see, one of the best of 2018), The Taking of Deborah Logan (Odd, creepy, unsettling, unique for the found footage genre), Hell House, LCC.

Classics to stream: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Zombi, The Changeling, Deep Red, Hellraiser, Re-Animator, Phantasm, Henry, Black Christmas

TV shows to stream:

  • “Creepshow” Yes, the reboot is really that good! A new episode will air every Thursday through Halloween. Horror lovers shouldn’t miss this.
  • “Dead Wax” This is such a creative Shudder original about a record that kills people. Hopefully, it gets a second season.
  • “Channel Zero” This four-season series based on Creepy Pasta stories initially aired on the Syfy network  and was cancelled way too soon. The final season drops this month on Shudder.
  • “NOS4A2” A worthy adaptation of Joe Hill’s bestselling novel.


Up next, I’ll offer recommendations for HULU. Stay tuned!





Review: 3 from Hell

3 From Hell

Did Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects really need a sequel, especially after the memorable anti-heroes were sprayed with bullets to the tune of “Free Bird?” The short answer is no, but here we are, more than 10 years later, and Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), and Otis Firefly (Bill Moseley) are back to inflict their warped sense of humor and sadism upon a new batch of victims. This time around, they’re joined by Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (Richard Brake), a relative of the Firefly family who also relishes in dishing out pain because, well, why not? As pointless as this sequel may be on paper, it’s fun to hang out with the Firefly clan again, especially during the first half of the film. Say what you want about Zombie, but he’s consistently pushing the boundaries of horror and offering a bloody, abject contrast to most of the mainstream fare out there.

The film begins with several shots of Baby, Spaulding, and Otis coming to and from jail, talking to the press when they can. Since the events of The Devil’s Rejects, they’ve amassed quite a number of fans that are convinced the trio is innocent. Otis’ hair is so long and his brow so furrowed during these sequences that he’s not hard to mistake for Charles Manson, or perhaps a warped inversion of Christ. Baby, meanwhile, blows kisses towards the camera and flashes a peace sign, which endears her to whatever post-60s hippies still exist during the film’s 1970s opening. These early sequences are about the only commentary the film has to offer, namely exploring why we’re  so entranced with serial killers, be it Manson or Ted Bundy. Here, Zombie uses the camera to hold a mirror up to society and our fascination with the macabre.

The Devil’s Rejects is such an interesting film because Zombie makes you root for the bad guys. Here, it’s Baby who really breaks out. Simply put, Sheri Moon shines, be it when she’s clenching a knife, twirling around the room, or laughing manically. She’s menacing, devious, playful, kitten-like, and crazy, often within the same scene. The first chunk of the film deals with her time in prison, after Otis breaks out and devises a plan to free her. Left alone, she suffers abuse at the hands of Greta, a security guard played by horror icon Dee Wallace. When Baby finally gets her revenge on Greta, it’s hard not to root for the kill, especially after witnessing the abuse unleashed upon the only female of the Firefly clan, including an attempted rape scene orchestrated by Greta.

The first half of the movie is solid, as the Firefly family checks off each name responsible for their imprisonment. The conversation among the clan, which features plenty of film references, including everything from Humphrey Bogart to Lon Chaney, is generally interesting and well-written. It humanizes the characters, while making us wonder why we’re rooting for such a malevolent bunch yet again.

3 From Hell

Winslow (Richard Blake), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis (Bill Moseley)

The second half of the movie often feels rudderless as the gang escapes to Mexico, only to be tracked by a mob related to a victim they killed early in the film. Here, there is no real character development, but rather kill, after kill, after kill. Sure, the excessive gore is stylish in typical Rob Zombie fashion, and the ending is about as violent as anything Zombie has filmed thus far, but one gets a sense that the director didn’t know what else to do with these characters. That’s a real shame. The first half of the movie was so engaging that I didn’t even care about the absurd explanation for the clan’s initial survival after The Devil’s Rejects. I can’t say the same about the last hour or so of the film. Once the group busts out of prison and satiates their thirst for revenge, there’s simply not much for them to do.

That said, 3 from Hell is worth viewing simply for Sheri Moon’s performance. She  outperforms her counterparts, and it made me wish the film just focused on her. She’s just as devious and often times bolder than the men. Additionally, 3 from Hell is worth viewing just for Sid Haig’s (RIP) final performance as the memorable and terrifying Captain Spaulding. Though his waning health limited his role, it’s worth it just to see him in the grease paint one last time.

Initially, the film was only going to be released during a 3-night run last week, but since it grossed nearly $2 million, it’s returning to theaters for one more night on Oct. 14. Check it out while you can. Zombie is playing with familiar characters here, while still mimicking the 70s grind-house  films he grew up with. 3 from Hell is worth the price, at the very least to hang with the Firefly clan one more time. Who knew that serial killers could make playing cards or discussing old films so interesting.

IT: Chapter 2 Drags Amid Some Solid Scares and Strong Performances

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2017’s It: Chapter 1 is the highest grossest horror film of all time, raking in $700 million globally at the box office. Already, there are rumblings that Chapter 2, also directed by Andy Muschietti, is going to smash box office records and surpass the $123 million opening weekend that its predecessor had. Chapter 1 resonated primarily because of the story-line of the Losers, a group of misfits and outcasts who come together to battle not only bullies but Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård), an ancient, cosmic entity who feeds upon human fear. Chapter 2’s greatest strength is the continuation of that story-line, when the Losers return to Derry, Maine to defeat Pennywise 27 years later, after children start disappearing. When the adult cast is together, the film soars. At a near three-hour running time, however, there are moments when the film feels bogged down by meandering side adventures and a CGI fest, especially during the prolonged finale.

The film’s opening 15 minutes are as powerful as Chapter 1’s beginning when poor Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) is sucked into a sewer by Pennywise. Without giving much away, I will simply state that the opening  sets one of the main themes of Chapter 2: bigotry is alive and well and the only way to confront it is by banning together, hence why a grown-up Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only Loser who still lives in Derry, calls his scattered childhood friends and urges them to come home to confront Pennywise one last time. The initial reunion of the Losers (Jessica Chastain as Beverly, James McAvoy as Bill, Bill Hader as foul-mouthed Richie, Jay Ryan as Ben, and James Ransone as Eddie), is one of the film’s strongest scenes, especially as they go around the table ribbing each other, while clinking beer glasses and toasting to the Losers. The casting is perfect and each of the adult performers give it their all. In fact, I venture to say they’re as likeable as the kid actors in Chapter 1.

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The Losers as adults

After the reunion, the film sprawls out into several side adventures, focusing on each individual Loser, as they attempt to recover an “artifact” that pertains to their childhood and a traumatic encounter they had with Pennywise, who fed on their deepest insecurity. Some of these side stories are scarier than others, and, at times, I wish that Pennywise was on the screen more. In fact, I wish that Skarsgård had more to do in the film in general. Too many scenes feature CGI zombies instead of the clown. For the most part, the film is faithful to the second half of Stephen King’s novel, but sometimes what works on the page doesn’t work as well in film, especially the flashbacks featuring de-aged child actors. Weird. That said, there are some great scares, especially the Paul Bunyan scene from the novel and a scene involving Pennywise, a little girl, and a ballpark at dusk. This particular scene reminded me of  the monster’s encounter with Georgie and how terrifying Skarsgård can be just in the make-up, tricking children and luring them to a grisly death. I wish there was more of that and less CGI.

It’s clear throughout the film that if the Losers are separated, they’re in greater danger. It could be said that the film drags the most when they’re dispersed, wandering around Derry. When they’re united, going toe to toe with Pennywise, or joking around, the film hits some of its highest emotional notes. Out of all the cast, Hader especially steals the show. He’s as funny as his childhood counterpart Finn Wolfhard in Chapter 1. He also has some of the greatest character development that takes Richie way beyond the one-liners.

There’s no doubt that It: Chapter 2 is going to bring in the big bucks this weekend. Pennywise is now as iconic as Freddy Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers. It’s just a shame he wasn’t given more screen time, especially more one on one scenes with the children of Derry or the grown-up Losers. He’s far more terrifying as a human-sized clown than a CGI spider. That said, when Chapter 2 has the right beats, namely when the Losers are on screen together, the film is quite arresting. Adapting a 1,000 page novel loaded with surreal imagery about an ancient, evil presence was never going to be an easy task. Chapter 2 would have benefited from a little less fidelity and firmer editing. If trimmed more, it could have been as strong as Chapter 1.

Make sure to look out for the fun cameo by Stephen King and one of the original Losers.

Overall grade: B

Ready or Not: A Bloody Good Time That Has Fun at the Expense of the 1 Percent

With Labor Day weekend here and summer winding down, several of horror’s heavy hitters will be released in theaters soon, most notably It Chapter 2 and The Lighthouse, director Robert Eggers’ follow-up to The Witch. That said, there’s another film in theaters now deserving of attention, Ready or Not,a gory blend of comedy and horror that lampoons the one percent while creating a memorable final girl in the process.

The story opens just as Samara Weaving’s Grace marries into the family from hell, the Le Domas clan. This is a family that adheres to absurd traditions, including a card game that’s played each time one of the family members marries. Grace picks the Hide and Seek card and asks, “Are we really going to play this?” To her, the game is childish and silly, but the clan isn’t about to break tradition. Grace soon learns that the game doesn’t involve merely hiding in elevator shafts or closets. The clan has to maim her and then sacrifice her in a ritual before dawn, or else, they all die. This is part a deal made years ago with the satantic figure Mr. Le Bail, whose portrait still hangs on the wall. The premise sounds absurd, and on paper it is, but under the direction of Matt Bettinelli-Olpina and Tyler Gillet, and with a smart script penned by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy, the film works surprisingly well.

Samara Weaving holds a gun, wearing a wedding dress, in the movie Ready or Not.

Samara Weaving as Grace

Grace is an incredibly likeable character. We see the world through her eyes, including the family’s swanky, multi-room mansion. Even when she escapes the maze-like home and dashes across lawn after lawn, seeking an exit from the property, we’re left wondering how much land the clan owns and who in their right mind needs so much acreage. She also has several of the best lines and reactions in the film, especially her simple, yet forceful  remark “Fucking rich people!” in the closing minutes. It’s clear that Grace, who wears Chuck Taylors with her wedding gown, is never going to be a Le Domas, no matter who she marries. Furthermore, the family is so bumbling that she’s better off.

(L to R) Kristian Bruun, Melanie Scrofano, Andie MacDowell, Henry Czerny, Nicky Guadagni, Adam  Brody, and Elyse Levesque in the film READY OR NOT. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The Le Domas clan

This is another strength of the movie. Typically, hunters/the wealthy are depicted as skillful and cunning, but not in this case. In the opening 20 minutes, one of the family members shoots another in the face with a shotgun. Even the Satanic ritual in the closing minutes is foolish and over the top. Generally, the film mocks the elite  while building up Grace as an every woman that earns cheers and sympathy. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Gillet said that one of the film’s intentions is to play with the class rage that’s been brewing over the last several years. “There are a lot of people who feel like they’re helpless, and that they want change, but they don’t know how to be part of it. There are a lot of people that just want to fucking scream right now. There’s a lot of rage, and a lot of anger, and a lot of fear.” This idea is underscored in several scenes. For example, at one point, Grace makes it to the open road just outside of the family’s sprawling property. When a driver sees her, he zooms by in his sports car, even as she flails her arms and wails for help. “What is it with rich people?” she asks.

As the film progresses, Grace endures one trial after the other, until her grown is bloodied and shredded. At times, the directors zoom in on her body as a nail goes through her hand or a fence’s spear tears her skin. These scenes are not for the squeamish, but they certainly make the audience root for Grace and feel her pain. Additionally, Ready or Not’s final minutes are the perfect blend of humor and horror that is threaded so carefully throughout the movie. It’s utterly satisfying.

Ready or Not is one of 2019’s best horror films. It’s smart, bloody, and funny, buoyed by a stellar and unique final girl. Grace’s frustration and role as an outsider is relatable, and her simmering rage at the  1 percent is utterly justified.




Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Fun, PG-13 Horror

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It’s nearing mid-August, and back-to-school ads are running non-stop, Starbucks has announced that its pumpkin-spiced drinks will return by the end of the month, and stores are putting Halloween decorations front and center. It’s that time of year when summer is winding down and fall is inevitable. With that comes the release of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, directed by André Øvredal, produced by Guillermo del Toro, and based on the popular books by Alvin Schwartz.  The film adaption may have some narrative lulls, but overall, it’s a fun film with some cool monsters and decent scares.

Set in 1968, the film has a quasi main protagonist in Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti), who wants to be a horror writer and whose bedroom is plastered with posters of Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, and other genre icons, including a Gil-man action figure. She and her friends, Auggie (Gabriel Rush), Chuck (Ausin Zajur), and the mysterious Ramon (Michael Garza), venture to a haunted house on Halloween night and stumble upon the book of Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard). Lone behold, the stories start to write themselves one by one in blood. There is some narrative arc surrounding the group of friends and the torment Sarah faced as an Other/outcast because of her albino skin, which caused her to write the stories and punish others, but some of the narrative falls flat. The most interesting thread is Stella’s story, who sympathizes with Sarah because she feels like an outsider and believes it’s her fault that her mom and dad split. Her pain is genuine, and it’s why she also bonds with Ramon, who is Othered by a bunch of jocks and called a wet back.

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Stella played by Zoe Margaret Colletti

The real highlight of the film, however, are the monsters. This is where Øvredal really. shines, when the characters are running through shadowy, creaky corridors of the Bellow estate or through corn stalks, hunted by Harold the Scarecrow. The monsters are top notch, not only Harold the Scarecrow, but also The Jangly Man, who’s composed of rotting body parts, and the Pale-faced Lady, whose permanent smile is chilling. The concept of the book reading each character’s fears is a nice touch, especially pertaining to Ramon’s story and The Jangly Man.

The film’s real weakness is the time and space between the stories, the narratives among the friends, some of whom feel like under-cooked stock characters shoe-horned into the film to justify another scary story. But when the bloody ink starts filling the blank pages of Sarah’s book and a new story is about to begin, the audience is in for a real treat.

Øvredal is one of the most interesting directors in horror right now. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of the most nerve-wracking flicks of the last few years. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is his first big budget film, and he generally does a good job with it, especially when the film leans into horror and lifts the monsters off the page. The film is bogged down by too much dead weight at times, but it’s certainly worth the price of admission during these waning weeks of summer.




Finally, Something Regarding The Lighthouse

It’s been known for a while now that Robert Eggers, director of The Witch, was going to release a movie shot on 35 mm and filmed in black and white. It was also stated early on that it would star Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson stranded on a mysterious New England island in the late 19th Century. Other than that,  very little about the film was leaked. This week, however, the trailer finally dropped.



After watching this, I have many thoughts. First, the sirens and foreboding music that shortly follow the A24 opening credit are nerve-rattling, and after that, we get a little bit of the plot when Dafoe’s character asks Pattinson’s character what, exactly, would drive him to such an island. From the rest of the trailer, it’s clear that Pattinson’s character masks some kind of secret. We see him digging a hole shortly after Defoe’s character implies that he’s on the run from something. Did he commit a crime? Did he murder someone? We’ll have to see.

It’s also clear that this is going to be a film about descent into madness. We see the men hugging, drinking, dancing, shouting at each other, gripping each other’s throats, and losing all sense of time.  One of them even chases the other in pounding rain with an axe! At one point, Defoe’s character asks, “How long have we been on this rock?” When he asks that, the camera pans to Pattinson, who looks pale, wide-eyed, and dazed. Other brief flashes of various scenes appear to be hallucinations, maybe?

Additionally, the film looks just as atmospheric and brooding as The Witch, and like Eggers’ previous film, nature’s not apt to be kind to the humans .In The Witch, the crops rot, thus causing the 17th Century Puritan family to blame it on witchcraft and the oldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya-Taylor Joy). In this film, it’s clear the sea is just as harsh, busting through the windows of the lighthouse, while thunder and lightening crack outside. Furthermore, that sense of isolation that the Puritan family faces, due to the fact they were exiled from their community, only deepens the eventual madness and unraveling. It appears isolation has a similar effect here.

The film is scheduled for wide release on Oct. 18.