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Jess’ October Movie List 2023

fantasticworldspod October 4, 2023 381 5


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It’s October, the most wonderful time of the year regardless of what that one song might have you believe. For me, this season (I’m sorry, I don’t call it “spooky” season, we need a new name) starts in September – much like how for Christmas fiends, the season starts in November – so I’ve been voraciously consuming horror media since late August. Almost nothing but! And much like I did last year, I want to now share with you some of my findings. Specifically, I’ll post one mini review of a horror film per day for the month of October, and hopefully someone out there will find my input useful, or at least objectionable enough to argue about it. I love a good argument as long as it’s undertaken with the right spirit in mind and no one minds if I say a lot of mean things about movies I didn’t like.

On the topic of saying mean things, I’m going to get serious for a moment because I want to acknowledge something that’s important to me when it comes to the very easy task of judging things and writing down those judgments: making anything is hard. Making my dumb little drawings is hard. Making cocktail recipes is hard. Making our podcasts is really hard. And making movies, in particular, is unbelievably, ridiculously hard. I’m a class A hater and I have fun relishing that role, but on a very earnest note, I hold a lot of respect and admiration for anyone who creates things, especially things as complicated as movies. Of course, there are caveats to that statement that I’m sure I don’t need to really get into (e.g. people who make things for nefarious reasons), but I hope you take my meaning. I am, by no means, doing something that’s even within the same universe of difficulty as creating a movie in spewing out my little thoughts on them. If I bore some technical knowledge or had particularly honed skills in media analysis, sure, really picking apart and judging a film could be considered far more of an investment, but I have neither. I’m just a thing with a lot of opinions who happens to have an abnormally intense interest in film, who once considered studying film and did not do so, and who now has only amateur opinions to level at films because of that choice. Whatever, I love it and I like to talk about it. I even love (most of) the ones I hate, as bullshit as that sounds. So, with all that said and understood, please go into this list knowing that my harshness is hyperbole, and I’m just a passionate freak who loves to overdo it with the flourishes. Hence this entire paragraph. Now please enjoy my list, or don’t and come see me about it. I’m on our Discord a lot. Just be ready, because I’m extremely fucking stubborn. 

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Table of Contents

October 1 - Huesera: The Bone Woman

Rating: 4/5

Where to watch: Shudder

An emotional exploration of motherhood, womanhood, and the repressive expectations of gender roles. The horror is in the body, it’s in the human mind, and it’s in the societal pressures that drive women and non-women with wombs to feel isolated and backed into a corner by the idea of what we’re meant to be. Needless to say, I loved it.

October 2 - The Sadness

BIG BIG BIG Trigger warning for sexual violence. Also, there is a lot of gore. I mean, just endless amounts of it. There’s so much fake blood splashing around in this movie, it becomes absurd – cartoonish, even – and that’s very obviously intentional. Same goes for violence of every stripe. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough, if you’re not into crazy, non-stop violence and blood, this isn’t going to be your bag. But if you want to sit on the edge of your seat through an unhinged, fucked up buffet of carnage, chaos, and cannibalism, The Sadness will give you that experience. As the title implies, it’s probably going to bum you out, but it’s also going to keep you thoroughly entertained, I promise.

Rating: 4/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 3 - Skinamarink

Rating: 2/5

Where to watch: Shudder

I attempted to go into this blind, but people were weirdly vocal about Skinamarink for a hot second when it first came out. I say “weirdly” because like… I don’t know why anyone would get so worked up about this movie one way or the other. It’s a mildly experimental slow-burn and basically, that’s all there is to it. I don’t care for over-reliance on jumpscares so I appreciated that they were few and far-between, but each of them is accompanied by an unnecessary and overly loud noise. You don’t need to destroy my cochlea to get your point across. It would in fact be far more unsettling to simply cut away without any additional sound. Aside from that, there are things I liked about it (particularly, its restraint), but cutting down its runtime to around half an hour would serve this movie well, I think. At least then I could appreciate what it’s trying to do instead of waiting with growing impatience for it to do something else. I dunno, it’s a dud for me, sorry. Maybe I’ve just watched too much analog horror. I do hope that Kyle Ball gets to make another movie because I’d like to see something else from him.

October 4 - Nocebo

Straight off, when I read the summary for this movie, I was worried about how the folk magic aspect would be handled. At this point, I’ve seen so many horror films that pervert and fetishize the spiritual practices of other cultures (see: nearly every depiction of voodoo and hoodoo) that I’ve grown wary of narratives that include these things. Nocebo, however, is not like so many of its predecessors. I am by no means an authority on this, so take my endorsement with a grain of salt, but if you’re looking for better reassurance, look no further than the Filipino actors and writers involved in the project themselves in this article (there are spoilers, so read at your own discretion). What Chai Fonacier and Ara Chawdhury have to say about representation and the importance of folklore and mysticism is fascinating. Anyway, I’m getting off-topic, so let me just say I really liked this movie, and even if you’re sometimes put off by narratives that focus heavily on social issues, it’s just good entertainment. Stories like this can sometimes come off as lackluster when storycraft is eschewed in favor of the message, but Nocebo is (mostly) subtle enough that it does justice to the subject matter.

Rating: 3.5/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 5 - Resident Evil: Death Island

Y’all, this is an animated Resident Evil movie, so we all know what we’re gonna get with this, right? So here are the strengths and weaknesses, bearing that in mind. The strengths: the action is pretty fun. I love wild, over-the-top stunts, and you’re always gonna get a ton of those in an RE property. Jill gets the best choreography by far since she’s basically the main character, and she whips ass. It’s also nice to see all of our most beloved Resident Evil characters together in one place, though more thoughtful interaction between them would be great. Also, everything looks really good. Aside from a few uncanny facial expressions, the character models are great and the effects are well done. Finally, you gotta love that creature design. 

Big, nasty RE flesh monsters should feel a bit played out, at this point, but the villain’s final form in this movie is gnarly and disgusting in a fantastic way. On to the weaknesses: as I said, it’s a Resident Evil movie, it’s going to have some stilted dialogue, that’s just par for the course. Still, it’s pretty egregious here. The villain monologues completely defang our main bad guy because he sounds like a college freshman learning about absurdism for the first time. The voice actor tried his best with the material he was handed but man, you could add a few more belts and zippers to his outfit and drag and drop him into Kingdom Hearts no problem. That’s the level of writing we’re dealing with. The only thing I can say in this character’s favor is that there was an attempt made to give him some genuine justification for his bullshit. Like, he’s definitely not wrong that the heroes of this series never diagnose or treat the real problems that cause repeated bioterrorism attacks around the world and that they’re tied up with organizations that are deeply flawed and protect the status quo. His reaction to all of that is what’s stupid, though. Also the fact that he was like “I’ll make you feel my pain” but then finds out like five minutes later it didn’t pan out and shrugs it off like that part didn’t even matter to him and that he expected it wouldn’t work… ok, so what was the point dude? You knew you had four people who have repeatedly thwarted other bioterrorist masterminds just sitting around, easy pickins, and you were cocky enough to think nothing would come of that? Seems poorly thought out to say the least, and the feeling that nothing he’s doing matters persists throughout the entire movie. There’s simply no suspense, and never any concern that the four most important characters in the RE franchise will fail. That simply would not and cannot happen, so even when they seem like they’re down for the count, you’re just sitting and waiting for the part where they get better. It’s like Chris says near the end “Looks like us suckers win. Again.” 

Finally, I know that helicoptering away is the definitive and expected ending to any RE thing now, but I really wish they’d given the final scene some levity. Have the five of them go get a drink and get some nice character interactions in, I dunno. End with some charm! But no, we get a gore-splosion and a sunrise helicopter ride after some terrible quips. How very Resident Evil. Overall, not very good, but fun enough to watch (specifically for the ass kickings Jill dished out) that I didn’t mind it.

Rating: 1.5/5

Where to watch: rentable on many platforms

October 6 - Malum

Within under five minutes of the start of this film, I thought “no, I don’t think so.” Does that mean I stopped right there? Of course not. I watch everything to completion unless it’s the mosts abhorrent dogshit you can conceive of. And even then, well, I watched Halloween Kills all the way through, so you can deduce for yourself how much I value my own time. This movie is a remake of Last Shift, a tight, tense little film that centers around a rookie officer’s night in an abandoned police station. And I have a weird soft spot for Last Shift. I think it’s fun, creepy, and has some neat visual stuff going for it. Is it perfect? Hell no, but it’s miles better than this. For those who have watched Last Shift, here are some weird tidbits of note: the cult has apparently made itself very visible and obvious in this version of events, pulling such stunts as sitting on the new police station steps and singing, throwing piglet heads at police cars, and kidnapping previously saved victims. It’s honestly some Looney Toons shit.

In case I haven’t made this abundantly clear already, this movie has none of the delicacy of its predecessor. It over-tells, over-shows (see: the long, lingering shots on the entrance to the Holding cells – do you think she’s gonna go in there and it’s gonna be bad!?), and worst of all, over-explains everything. The scenes of the cult carrying out its murders, which were previously left to the imagination after pretty well-done descriptions in Last Shift, are shown in awkwardly filtered high-definition. The emotional turmoil of the mother, which we might have inferred from her brief phone conversations with her daughter in Last Shift, is displayed via wholly unnecessary exposition-dump scenes where she stupidly refuses to speak up for herself until the last possible moment. And the prickly and unstable character of Officer Cohen  is turned into a cartoonishly awful person. Very subtle, eh? As I said, Last Shift is by no means poetic cinema, but it does have some restraint. Malum has none. That unabashedness would ostensibly make it enjoyable in its absurdity – and I did end up laughing out loud at least 3 times throughout my watching experience – but the problem is that it’s still grasping at the tone set by the original, and that’s far too somber and serious to be fun. The one thing both films have going for them, it must be said, is their leading actresses. 

Both Jessicas are phenomenal, and sell the lackluster cult plot far better than one might expect of a film of this caliber. They also both manage to make it seem a lot less stupid than it is that a major feature of the character is reciting some sort of police code anytime they’re upset. Anyway, this one is a safe skip. Just watch Last Shift instead, seriously, it’s on Tubi for free and it’s actually enjoyable.

Rating: 0/5

Where to watch: Tubi

October 7 - Terrifier 2

I hesitated to even include this on my list, let’s start there. The main reason for that is that Terrifier didn’t really scratch any itch for me with the first film. Sure, it made me laugh at least twice that I can remember, and some of the kills were a good time. And sure, I do remember it, but that’s mostly as the basement trash movie that used dog food as doo doo in a scene where the killer wrote his own name on the wall of a restaurant bathroom. It wasn’t good, is what I’m saying. Terrifier 2 had it all to play for, then, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not someone who’s going to hold a bad first take against a series in every case, so I decided hey! Blank slate for you, Terrifier 2. Even with that, um, this shit sucks. Attempts at poking fun at the genre feel half-baked and unoriginal, the special effects range from terrible to mid, and good god, it is fucking long. There will be like four creative flourishes total in one of these things and they expect me to spend two hours slogging through the rest? No thanks.

Here’s a short list of the things I liked about it: Terrifier Junior (pictured above). Vicky giving birth to Art’s head. The Clown Cafe sequence. The performances of Art and Sienna. Here’s a selection of what I disliked about it: most of the kills are boring and drawn out. Every attempt at cleverness comes off as cringe. The plot is only funny-bad on paper; in practice, it’s grating and exhausting. And I think that point is indicative of what is largely wrong with these movies: they’re too self-aware, and everything comes off as calculated and trite as a result. To be truly good-bad, to schlock with the best of them, you need at least some degree of sincerity. You’re simply not going to get that from these films, from what I can tell. And hey, I could be totally wrong about the director’s intent here, but that’s the reading I got. Sorry. Tl;dr, there are some nuggets and gems to be found in this film, but overall, it fails at nearly everything it seems to be aiming for.

Rating: 1.5/5

Where to watch: Prime Video

October 8 - Perpetrator

Rating: 2/5

Where to watch: Shudder

The first two words that came to mind within 20 minutes of this film’s start were “tonally confused.” Then I had the thought “feels like a higher budget, slightly toned down CW show.” But I was still having fun at that point so I shrugged and waited the feeling out. Well, it only got more tonally confused and more CW from there, so… my mistake. I’m not going to say that made it entirely insufferable, but it did give it a certain degree of suck that was hard to overlook. At the same time, I didn’t totally hate it. If you let it, it will carry you away into the surreal little world in which the events of the movie unfold, and as long as you keep your thinking cap off, you’ll have a good enough time in that world. If I had to pick one thing I liked about it most, it was how gross it was 🙂 In a fun way!

October 9 - Under the Shadow

As you might expect considering that this is set during the Iran–Iraq War, Under the Shadow is heavy. It’s a painful watch, brimming with emotion and tension and a great deal of subtext to chew on. It takes some time to get to the scares, but they’re effective once they hit. There are only a few near the end that start to veer more towards goofy rather than scary, and that’s mostly because of the effects. Overall, a really affecting, well-paced, well-executed film.

Rating: 4/5

Where to watch: Netflix

October 10 - Bedevilled

Rating: 0.5/5

Where to watch: Hi-Yah TV/Rent on Amazon

The tone of the early scenes of this film is fucked. Some of the acting is truly godawful, that’s the main problem, but there’s something else that just feels weird and dry and wrong about the whole thing. Still, I was at least holding out for some kind of satisfaction because the description told me this was a revenge film, and dang did I want to see that revenge once I got to know all the awful people in Bok-nam’s life. It also felt like it was leading up to some unhinged, fun kills, which I’m always up for. However, I had to wait more than an hour for anything even remotely good to happen, and that span of time left a truly rancid taste in my mouth. The director had little to no delicacy in depicting the grooming of Bok-nam’s child, and the actor portraying the little girl did not need to be exposed to the lines and scenes laying out the abuse for us to get it. I know this film was never going for subtlety, but damn, could at least one part not be told with all the finesse of a sledgehammer? At some point I started to think the whole thing was intended as a black comedy, as distasteful and stupid as that would be. Everyone is just so cartoonishly, one-dimensionally evil, and the acting verged on campy. The only positive thing I can say about this piece of shit is that the revenge is well-earned and a relief to witness.

October 11 - Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel and Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire

I watched these so you don’t have to, and yeah, I decided to make this review a two-fer. In fact, we might call it a three-fer because I’m going to talk about the first movie now. Hell House LLC (which has been massively overhyped) is one of those films that starts off really promising and then quickly becomes intolerable. It’s the typical “none of these characters are compelling” problem that many such horror films tend to have, and it’s not made any better by the slow, mostly uninteresting haunting that happens around those characters. The ending twist would almost be good if it weren’t executed so poorly and stalled by an over-long slog of a film. So do the sequels fare any better? Short answer: no. Longer answer: anything redeeming found in the second movie is completely overridden by the goofy fake news segments and things of that ilk, and anything redeeming found in the third is completely washed away by the baffling absurdity and clumsiness of the climax. In both, the scares are repetitive and boring, but I found at least a few of them fun enough that I wasn’t rolling my eyes constantly. Still, these are bad movies and I wouldn’t recommend watching them to just about anyone. It’s just ideas ideas ideas with no execution. The end.

Rating: 1/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 12 - Bones and All

My aunt – who does not love horror and is known to check out during long films – came downstairs from bed, saw one very early scene in the film, and sat down to watch this with me late at night when she was tired. I think that’s a pretty strong testament to its quality. That’s not to say it’s without its flaws, however. I found the first major climax to be kind of lacking, and I’m sorry to miss Sevigny, but I think it was partially her performance that turned it into a whiff. I also thought some of the book logic needed retooling for the big screen, and that was the other contributing factor. I mean, obviously a lot of that was done already, but there were still some bits left behind that just felt awkward and ill-fitting. Now, all that said, my score should tell you that I still liked this movie a lot and definitely recommend it.

Rating: 3.8/5

Where to watch: Prime Video

October 13 - The Hallow

Things I liked: the atmosphere, creature design, finale, and performances. Things I was less thrilled about: the overall lack of tension. Most of the scares are just not effective. Other than that, it was a fun time. There are a good handful of films with a similar premise/in a similar vein, but this one stands out from the others I’ve seen of that group. It was in its favor that they didn’t spend too much time focusing on researching and explaining the creatures, which is often a weak part of films like this. We learn just enough about the titular hallow to maintain a degree of mystery and interest. 

Rating: 3/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 14 - The Nun 2

Man… whatever. Nothing ever feels like it matters in these movies. They’re dumb, and they know they’re dumb, and sometimes that makes magic. Other times, it makes whatever this is. I tried to turn my brain off and just enjoy the goofy parts, and I was able to produce a chuckle approximately 3 times, but damn I am so sick of the Conjure-verse. This was my last time giving any property related to it a shot. The only positive thing I have to say is that it’s at least marginally better than the first one, but frankly, that means next to nothing considering the films we’re talking about here. It’s just different degrees of shit. 

Rating: 1/5

Where to watch: Theaters, rent, or buy

October 15 - The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Do yourself a favor and do not look up anything about this movie before you watch it. I think part of its ability to induce anxiety and distress is dependent on not knowing what’s going on until you’re in the thick of the film. In fact, what lowers its score for me is that without the tension of the unknown, its slowness becomes sort of grating. Like, seriously, some of the scenes way overstay their welcome. All that said, it’s good. It’s upsetting in a way I can appreciate, and the experience of watching it – perhaps even if you do know what to expect – is well worth it.

Rating: 3.8/5

Where to watch: Netflix

October 16 - Satan's Slaves: Communion

I preferred the first one (you should check it out). That’s primarily because Bahri’s trajectory in this bummed me out, though. Secondarily, it’s because there’s a really annoying camera flash sequence at the end that went on way too long and was initially accompanied by a noise that made me want to jam a pencil in my ear. And finally, it’s because there were a few too many sub-plots. Disregarding those things though, this was a lot of fun. The main strength of these films is the characters and the family dynamic – and that was just as good this time as it was in Satan’s Slaves – but almost as important is the atmosphere. The director always gets it juuuuust right as far as I’m concerned. To put all this another way, there was some setup for a sequel, and I am happily anticipating it after Communion.

Rating: 3.5/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 17 - Warning: Do Not Play

This started off really promising, tiptoed through the second act with little to latch onto, and ended with a string of cliches. I think trying to sell a meta-narrative is just a bad idea unless you can really nail it. This does not nail it. We needed a foil for the main character- a woman obsessed with creating a horror film who then becomes obsessed with a ghost snuff film – and that was not provided. I know some would claim that’s what the director of the ghost snuff film is for, but he’s far less a foil than he is a glimpse into Mi-jung’s future if she keeps pursuing her obsession. Maybe I missed something about her younger friend and he’s meant to be the foil, but he’s practically a blank slate and doesn’t express the love for horror that Mi-jung and Jae-hyun do, so I really don’t think so. I dunno, it wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t all that good either.

Rating: 2/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 18 - Super Dark Times

A horror drama about annoying teenage boys. As you can imagine from that description, there is a lot of insufferable dialogue to sit through. There’s also some good nuggets, but a ton of the experience of watching this is putting up with how grating most of the characters are. It’s also slow, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to consider if you’re interested in checking it out. Still, I liked this film quite a bit. The thick unease that settles in as events unfold is cut well with some supernatural-feeling dream sequences, and the whole thing stays grounded in a way that twisted my stomach. More drama than horror, I’d say.

Rating: 3.5/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 19 - The Heretics

The opening scene – an artlessly shot cult sacrifice – told me this was going to be shit. It has no tension, it goes on too long, and the cultist costumes are barely passable on the creepiness meter. Then the tone gets all serious and dramatic, but the problem is that Gloria, the main character, and her girlfriend Joan have hair and makeup styling that is so drastically different from the rest of the cast, it immediately ruins the atmosphere. And that’s something that will persist. No matter what our main character goes through, her eye makeup and falsies always stay perfect. She may get gunked up in other ways, but you know, gotta stay pretty through it all. Anyway, this then becomes a captivity movie, and man, it’s a fucking boring one. The only interesting thing that happens for quite awhile is that Gloria’s girlfriend goes apeshit while looking for her. Anyway, the weird thing about this movie is that it kind of verges on being interesting here and there, and it’s not even terribly made nor poorly acted. It’s bad in an unexpected way, is what I’m saying. Which is a shame, because I love me a monster transformation movie. If you want to see what little good there is to be found here, just watch the last 20 minutes and you’ll get the gist.

Rating: 1/5

Where to watch: Tubi

October 20 - Head Count

I can’t pinpoint just one thing that was responsible for this film not working, it simply didn’t. There are all these shots of people lurking around that are intended to create tension, but the anxiety never comes through. The intervening scenes are either pleasantly banal or slightly awkward; my discomfort came from secondhand embarrassment more than anything else. About 50 minutes in, stuff starts to veer in a more interesting direction, but then there’s some computer nonsense that turns it goofy. If I had to name a few nice things about the film, I’d say it looks good, the final 20 minutes are kinda fun, and it’s not too long. Aside from that, there’s not much to see here.

Rating: 2.5/5

Where to watch: For rent on many platforms

October 21 - Lucky

An interesting premise well-told. It’s not immediately evident what Lucky is really about at the start, but as our main character May goes through the same experience night after night with the same reactions from the people around her, it becomes unsettlingly clear what the message is. In fact, it gets a bit too heavy-handed for my taste towards the end, but up until the parking garage, I was loving this. Even after the parking garage, I really enjoyed Lucky. It certainly helps that May’s feelings are all too familiar.

Rating: 3/5

Where to watch: For rent on many platforms

October 22 - La Llorona

Gripping and impeccably made. So many movies have trampled this folk tale that I was kind of expecting schlock in spite of the beautiful cover and promotional image. Instead I was met with a thoughtful, quiet, and engaging tale centered around revenge and justice. My one criticism is not that it’s too long as I might normally say, but that because it’s quite clear what our destination is, the journey sometimes crawls where it should run. Maybe I’m just impatient, but I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment. Regardless, a lovely watch, though not the kind of horror you’ll want to seek out if you prefer lots of scares.

Rating: 4/5

Where to watch: For rent on many platforms

October 23 - The Power

This film starts off with a tried and true setting for horror (a hospital at night) throws in a meek protagonist with a troubled past (Val) and then attempts to delve into issues it’s not entirely capable of grappling with. The first complication is that some of the characters – fellow nurse and mean girl Babs, in particular – lean more caricature than genuine portrayal, which is a shame because there is tension and atmosphere to be found when those characters aren’t throwing scenes off-kilter. In that vein, the second problem is that when you’re dealing with such topics as sexual assault, misogyny, class dynamics, and abuse of power, subtlety is key. For want of that, you need a telling that’s less bleak and somber than this, or at least one with a unique artistic direction (à la our 10/21 entry, Lucky). Instead, what we get in The Power are many moments of clunky, on-the-nose dialogue and action that do a disservice to the narrative. From our main character Val’s ridiculous contorting and jerking around, to Babs’ schoolyard mockery, so many scenes come off as silly rather than striking. The ending most of all. Again, a shame, because I appreciated the parallel narratives of the ghost and Val herself, and the sometimes-successful attempt at telling a story about the intersection of classism and sexism. Anyway, this movie is very nearly good, and that means I can’t put it in the dud category, but if you’re not a pretty diehard horror fan, you’re probably not going to find much to latch onto here.

Rating: 2.5/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 24 - Evil Dead Rise

I thought the bloodiest movie on this list was going to be The Sadness, but Evil Dead Rise has it beat by approximately one elevator’s worth. Anyway, this was nasty and crazy and fun in nearly all the right ways. The fact that they keep making Evil Dead stuff and it keeps being pretty good is a welcome surprise. It does suffer from some weird writing choices and you will likely reach the gore desensitization threshold pretty quickly, but it was still a good time. A great one to watch with friends.

Rating: 3/5

Where to watch: (HBO) Max

October 25 - School's Out

The main issue with this film is one of pacing. The odd happenings witnessed by our protagonist Pierre become repetitive without breaking new ground, leaving us mired in the same sensation for long enough that it loses its edge. At least one of the samey scenes of the students being weird could have been cut without losing anything and every scene of the children performing needed to be trimmed by half. The content of the film, otherwise, is fine. It’s a generational divide movie with a bit more substance to it than the usual “evil children” type of story, but it’s still nothing groundbreaking, which isn’t a bad thing. I quite liked it, and along with the strong performances, it made for something mostly engaging if sometimes, as I mentioned, a bit slow.

Rating: 3/5

Where to watch: Shudder

October 26 - The Crescent

Rating: 2.2/5

Where to watch: Shudder

I’ll be honest, you can kind of win me over with cool visuals as long as the rest of the project isn’t completely awful, and this movie does have some really cool visuals. Some of the editing choices almost veer into student project territory, but I think they toe the line well enough that it doesn’t hurt my impression of the film as a whole. The performances, on the other hand, are where things get a bit rocky. They range from decent to shaky, with no one doing an outright terrible job. The mother’s understated, extremely depressed demeanor works at first, but during the last 15 minutes of the film, you can tell she’s not necessarily ready to play out more emotion-intensive scenes. There’s a neat reveal during this section that makes up for that, so I won’t harp on it. There are parts – and the end sequence is one of them – where the low budget really shows, but taken as a whole, I was willing to overlook those parts. And really, now that I’ve written all that out, I’ve basically stated that I’m breezing past some mediocre performances, low-budget struggles, and weird edits because I dug the visuals and the vibe. And I stand by that. I kind of liked this movie. It did the whole sad, meandering slow-burn thing but I felt the tension they were aiming for right in the gut, probably because there was a very small child involved. I don’t know if that’s cheating or what, but it worked about as well as Skinamarink and I enjoyed this marginally more than that so… oh well. 

October 27 - Hellraiser (2022)

Being better than 70% of all Hellraiser movies isn’t the highest of praise, but it’s what I can offer to this film. It’s very, uhhhh, competent. It’s also missing some things. The watching experience is frustrating that way. This film often brings you just to the edge of something good, then reels it in faster than you can blink. It was honestly tiring. That being said, I mostly loved the look and lore of the updated cenobites, and I found the third act pretty fun. I think I would have really liked this film if the non-fantastical plotline had been handled better. The drug addiction story didn’t fall flat on its face, but it didn’t compel or interest me much, and it barely even served its main intended purpose.

Rating: 3/5

Where to watch: Hulu

October 28 - Cobweb

A genuine Halloween movie, and yes, there is a difference between Halloween movies and horror movies. It’s not just that it’s set around and on Halloween day, it’s the tone, the slight silliness, the fairytale dreaminess of it all. Anyway, this film is not incredible, but if you let it carry you away, it’s a super good time. Conceptually, it’s goofy, but the execution is so good that it works. You could kind of see the point where they ran out of money, but it didn’t take enough away from the rest of the film that I care. I’m sad to see that this film seems to have flopped because I think it deserves more love.

Rating: 3.5/5

Where to watch: Hulu

October 29 - Candyman (2021)

I don’t know why it took me so long to getting around to this. The original Candyman is one of my favorite horror films, and this is a more than worthy sequel. There are a few moments where it over-explains itself, and the first act is wobbly, but by the end, I found myself fully engrossed and chilled.

Rating: 3.5/5

Where to watch: Prime Video

October 30 - Martin

I wanted to include at least one old film on here since I’ve been revisiting classics and filling in holes in my watch history. I thought Martin would make a good candidate since I don’t think I’ve talked to a single other person who’s seen it, and that’s a real shame because it’s genuinely affecting. It’s not a light-hearted watch, so don’t put it on if you’re already in a dark place, but if you’re in the mood for a compelling – if dreary – film, Martin is quite good.

Rating: 3.5/5

Where to watch: Internet Archive

October 31 - Talk to Me

My expectations were high and I was not disappointed. This film is quite good. I hope we get an extended cut at some point because I would love to see more of Mia’s development, honestly. There are a few moments that don’t quite work perfectly, but overall, this was so fresh and creepy and disturbing I couldn’t find much that really let me down about it.

Rating: 3.8/5

Where to watch: for rent on various platforms

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