A fun, hyper modern Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery party in which the clever whodunit aspect is ancillary to the toxic relationships of the 20-something characters and the chiseled 40-something physique of Lee Pace.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Pete Davidson represents my millennial generation here, finally bridging the gap between the Amandla Stenberg and Lee Pace generations.”
An effective, inventive, sci-fi horror with satirical Hollywood elements that, above all, made me think about the natural universe and the grand morality of humanity’s relationship with its denizens, from the horse actors to primates to people, aliens and beyond.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “The characters probably make some of the most intelligent and genuine in-the-moment decisions in film history.”
“It doesn’t work. Not since I was a kid. Hang it up.”
The darkest rumors of our childhoods made manifest. A simple, engaging horror story crafted into a tight, capable film with, unsurprisingly, vibes of Sinister throughout. Set in a utopian 1970s in which the authorities actually believe children when they tell them about their prophetic dreams.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I would still accept Ethan Hawke’s offer to show me a magic trick. No questions asked.”
Skeleton count: 0, but there are multiple ghost children which count as allusions to skeletons.
Surgery is the new sex in Cronenberg’s fleshy, analog future. Viggo Mortensen dresses as a ninja and Gollums his way through a noir setting while getting his organs removed for art. The true answer to our species’ waste problems are laid bare and autopsied.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “Cronenberg should have popped up during one of the jaw dropping surgery scenes and quoted John Wick, saying ‘People keep asking me if I’m back. Oh yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.'”
A haunting, modern parable that begins in wtf territory and only journeys deeper into it from there. The worst behaviors of people of my gender are all shown through the lens of horror and rendered with the same face, but that doesn’t dampen the impact of what’s being said.
I was chiefly reminded of Darren Aronofsky’s Mother while watching this, in part because of the mounting wtfery but also because it’s a male director and writer telling a story that almost demands the perspective of a woman to reach its full potential. There’s definitely a conversation to be had about that.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “It’s also a bit Twilight Zone-esque, with some bits of cosmic horror seeping in. I was reminded of the TZ episode “The Invaders,” where Agnes Morehead is terrorized by little invaders that turn out to be men from Earth!”
There’s a bit of welcome schlocky Hammer Horror in this new entry into the Spider-Man adjacent genetic anti-hero Sony Playstation Universe (SAGASPU), but not nearly enough. It’s all so suitably hammy and self-serious, but more blood, more horror, and choosing Buffy the Vampire Slayer style prosthetics over CGI would have really sold it. Still, if you dig the weird, messy vibes of Venom and like Matt Smith stealing the spotlight from people, you will find something to enjoy.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I still stand by my Venom 2 review where I said there is plenty of room for these janky 90s/early 00s style comic book movies amidst the cinematic universes, destined to be played on FX until the end of time. For the bored children. For the drunk bar patrons. For the tired vacationers. For the people, damn it.”
“What about you, Maxine? What’s your American dream?”
As clever and funny a slasher as it is creepifying, with visual and rhythmic odes to old horror to spare. What it says, though, about the genre and the links between the love of sex and the love of seeing fake people die horribly, is the real feature here. As are the motivations of the central killer, who absolutely commands the screen and demands to be recognized as iconic.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “‘An instant horror classic’ is the kind of saying that has lost all meaning, but back in 1979 it was still a fresh thing to say, so I’m going to say it like I’m from back then: an instant horror classic, man! Fleetwood Mac! Star Trek! Jimmy Carter!”
A dreamy, ghostly and claustrophobic horror story that explores abusive and overbearing (and royal) control the same way Larrain’s previous film Jackie explored grief. Also like Jackie, it features a singular performance from a central actor in Kristen Stewart who commands every single scene.
Above all, though, Spencer is a sympathetic portrait of Princess Diana that, while I’m sure takes liberties with some things and completely changes others, captures the feeling of an individual trapped in circumstances she couldn’t predict.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “I guess we should be careful about conspiracies, but the royal family had her killed. At least in the Spencer cinematic universe.”
A movie that dares people to call it a ‘wild ride’ and put it in quotes at the top of the poster or home video case, then just ratchets up the wild and weird and body horror until it becomes something wonderfully uncontrollable and keenly unknowable.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “It does have a lot in common with the Fast and Furious movies, though, and I won’t be elaborating.”
As meta and almost as intelligent as any of the other four entries in the franchise, with the twists of the plot knife and blood to match. The “requel” concept is clever and interesting enough to warrant its existence, as are the new cast of characters who rhyme in substantial, interesting and surprising ways with the old.
Also, the most important aspect of any Scream movie isn’t meta commentary or effective scares, it’s Ghostface getting the shit kicked out of them and thrown down stairs or hit with candle sticks a bunch, which they still nail here.
My VHS cover pull-quote: “There’s a lot of Scream 3 hate popping up again, and I just want to use this space to defend it as not only a curious full shift for the franchise into horror comedy but also an early (if soft) modern commentary on predatory Hollywood, which is rich considering the Weinstein connection to the franchise, but still interesting.”