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Jess’ October Movie List

Jessica Negin October 18, 2022 77 5


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What you will find below is a list of films I watched for each day of the month of October 2022, along with my rating and short review of each. Below that, a partial list I cobbled together in 2021 when I tried to do the same thing, and some other horror film recommendations and reviews. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

October 1 - Umma

Film: Umma

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 1.5/5

I regret that I have to say this, but the month’s offerings started off with a whimper. I really wanted to like Umma. It has some good elements, it just doesn’t really deliver on what it’s promising. Especially when what it’s promising is such an important and difficult story to tell. Sandra Oh is always great – that goes without saying – but she can’t act away a flawed script and jumpscares that don’t even elicit a jump. Certain moments were very affecting, but ultimately, I came away from this film underwhelmed and sad for the wrong reasons.

October 2 - You Won't Be Alone

Film: You Won’t Be Alone

Where to watch: Peacock

Rating: 4/5

Even before watching the rest, I know for certain that this film is unlike any other on this list. And unless you’re looking for a gentle folktale with a smattering of dark elements and gore, I wouldn’t really offer it as a horror movie recommendation. That being said, I would certainly recommend watching it when you have the time. It’s breathtaking, it’s aching, it’s novel. 

My one criticism is that it could be edited down just a touch, but that’s something you will hear me say often. I’ll probably start to sound like I hate long movies, but that’s not true. As long as the time is used effectively, I don’t mind, I just found that You Won’t Be Alone became repetetitive at times.

October 3 - Fresh

Film: Fresh

Where to watch: Hulu

Rating: 3.5/5

Fun! I don’t even know what else needs to be said. This one was really fun. It struck a great balance between nauseating and charming, and everyone in it was fantastic. I could write some rambly shit about the feminist messaging and the parts that were lacking and so on and so forth, but I think this movie is quite simply a great time and worth a watch.

October 4 - X

Film: X

Where to watch: Currently only available to rent

Rating: 3.5/5

This film is one of the only (if not the only) Texas Chainsaw inspired films to actually get me on board. It pays homage to 70s horror and exploitation films without limiting itself to the constraints of those genres. This film has a good deal more humanity than your typical slasher, for one. But it’s still grounded and gritty and smutty and gory. I think there are one or two scenes I found myself checking out from, but otherwise, it made me feel shock, unease, and amusement in spades.

October 5 - The Long Night

Film: The Long Night

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 1/5

This movie takes itself very seriously. This movie is also very dumb. The main characters are unlikable New York yuppies, the plot is dull and plodding, and there is not a lick of tension or fear to be found anywhere over the course of its 90 minute runtime. I got a good laugh out of the first murder scene because the music they played over it was kind of bonkers, but aside from that, I was bored out of my mind. I’m giving it a point for having some cool visuals, good performances, and at least not making me angry.

October 6 - So Cold the River

Film: So Cold the River

Where to watch: Currently only available to rent

Rating: 2/5

I dunno. That sums up how I feel about this movie. It has some spooky parts that I very much enjoyed. Then again, there are lots of other parts I could take or leave (leaning towards leave). I think this movie might be up someone else’s alley, but for me it didn’t really hit.

October 7 - The Other Lamb

Film: The Other Lamb

Where to watch: Hulu

Rating: 4/5

Disturbing, gripping, and intense. This is not a standard horror story, and one I wouldn’t look to if you want typical thrills and chills. It is a fantastic movie, however, and one I highly recommend. Trigger Warning for rape.

October 8 - Bliss

Film: Bliss

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 3/5

I hate these people. And the movie wants me to hate them, I’m pretty sure of that. Watching this made me wonder, momentarily, was I this obnoxious during my partying days? But upon reflection, even though I definitely was obnoxious, I don’t think I was nearly as unbearable as the characters in this film. However, I will give it points for being a vampire movie that actually gets gory and horrifying with it, and also for having cool visuals and music that’s right up my alley. So like… I kind of liked it? The 3 I’m giving it is a very personal 3. And if you, like me, sometimes enjoy style over substance, you can skip the first 30 minutes or so of this film and get right into the parts that make it fun. That’s the only watching experience I can really encourage for most people.

October 9 - The Black Phone

Film: The Black Phone

Where to watch: Peacock

Rating: 3/5

I was pleasantly surprised by The Black Phone. It delivers on an interesting concept, the pacing is pretty good, and the performances are, on the whole, decent. The one thing I have to note is that the film teeters on the edge of corniness basically the entire time, and often falls right into it. A little cheese is expected for a film like this, but some scenes are full-on cringey.

October 10 - Barbarian

Film: Barbarian

Where to watch: In theaters/HBO Max on Oct.25

Rating: 3.5/5

Trigger warning: references to rape, use of the f-slur. This movie threw me for a loop repeatedly, and I don’t want to give away much more than that because I think you should see what I mean for yourself. I was entertained, surprised, and jarred. Suffice it to say, I recommend Barbarian.

October 11 - The Cursed (2021)

Film: The Cursed (2021)

Where to watch: Hulu

Rating: 2/5

I docked this movie several points because I truly cannot believe that the crux of a movie made in the year 2021 is a Romani curse. How have we not moved past this? There was potential for this film to turn out much more interesting if the rest of it weren’t so messy in regards to its handling of the Romani victims. 

The entire time, it’s like you can hear the creators going “aww, well, listen, we know it was real bad what the rich guy did to those folks, but you know, it’s also real bad that they cursed the entire village, innit? They’re definitely worse, right? You agree.” I instantly got a bad taste in my mouth during the inciting incident and it would not go away long enough for me to truly enjoy the redeemable parts of this movie. It’s visually lovely, unique, and has several very effective scenes, but all of that is entirely overshadowed by racism. Racism that they try and fail to grapple with in the plot, funnily enough.

October 12 - As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners)

Film: As Boas Maneiras (Good Manners)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime/Shudder

Rating: 3.5/5

I had absolutely no idea what was in store for me when I ran across this movie on Shudder. Part love story, part family drama, part… musical? Sort of? But it doesn’t even become a musical until like an hour in. This movie is weird, touching, a little silly, and entertaining all around. My nitpicks are that it is very long (at least for my taste) and the CGI is uhhhh not effective, but I’ll give it a pass on both counts because I truly don’t think I’ve ever seen anything else like Good Manners, and I don’t know that I ever will again.

October 13 - The Endless

Film: The Endless

Where to watch: Tubi

Rating: 3.5/5

All horror is very difficult to get right, but cosmic horror in particular is so rarely tackled ably that it’s a real treat when it is. The Endless is by no means perfect, but it’s one of the better cosmic horror films I’ve seen. It’s well acted, well shot, and well written. The filter over the whole movie is not my favorite thing in the world, and they lost me a bit during the last few minutes, but those flaws don’t diminish what this film accomplishes otherwise.

October 14 - The Last Thing Mary Saw

Film: The Last Thing Mary Saw

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 1.5/5

A droning and emotionless affair. The relationship that so much of the plot hinges on is poorly established and given almost no life. To put it bluntly, there’s a lot of tell and very little show. By the time anything interesting happens, you’ll have already sat through a punishing, bleak 45 minutes of quiet 19th century meandering. And that’s a shame, because I like the story being told and many of the techincal aspects of this film, it’s just that the execution is lacking in pathos. I’m not saying this was the worst thing I’ve ever watched, but it’s certainly not worth your time, and at a relatively short runtime of 89 minutes, that’s saying something.

October 15 - Hellbender

Film: Hellbender

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 2.5/5

This movie is kind of goofy but also kind of great. If you can look past questionable CGI and some scenes that are a bit cringey and indulgent, Hellbender will give you a good time. One of the things to its credit is that it didn’t go in the well-trod direction I was initially expecting. I think if it had, it would have been out of its depth considering the catalogue of existing movies telling that story. But because it veered into different territory and added some unique flavor to its witch mythology, it managed to stand out enough to keep me interested.

October 16 - Tigers Are Not Afraid

Film: Tigers Are Not Afraid

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 4/5

The children are precious, the visuals are charming, and the story is dark but intriguing. This movie is both fantastical and bleak, and it struck me more than almost anything else I watched for this list. It’s a project that wears its influences on its sleeve, but I don’t think that’s to its detriment at all. It takes those influences and molds them in a novel and wonderful way.

October 17 - All the Moons

Film: All the Moons

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 3/5

I would describe All the Moons as a dark fairytale drama, and a pretty successful one at that. It was occasionally a bit slow for my taste, and my suspension of disbelief was tested a few times, but I came away happy that I watched this film. It didn’t blow my socks off, but it certainly left an impression and even got me crying. That being said, it is very long, so if you don’t enjoy a slow burn, you’ll want to skip this one.

October 18 - The Dark and the Wicked

Film: The Dark and the Wicked

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 2/5

There’s nothing particularly fresh or new in this film, and unfortunately, it’s also pretty sparse in the scare department. There are some effects that were enjoyable and well-executed, but that’s about all it has going for it. It’s a slow burn, and a dour one at that, so as you might expect, I found it much too long. 

One of the other things I really disliked about it is the fact that it’s religious horror, and specifically, US American religious horror, which I find tiresome and grating. Also, in typical horror movie fashion, the stubbornness of some of the characters just got annoying by the end. Anyways, you can safely skip this one.

October 19 - The Wailing

Film: The Wailing

Where to watch: Tubi

Rating: 4/5

I’ve had this on my list for years, but never got around to tackling it because, well, with a runtime of over 2.5 hours, it kind of sounded like homework. However, once you take the time to watch it, this movie is as fantastic as rumored. Filled with dark humor and horror in equal measure, The Wailing does not waste the time it asks of you. It’s entertaining and eerie from start to finish.

October 20 - Halloween Ends

Film: Halloween Ends

Where to watch: Peacock

Rating: 3/5

For those interested in a spoiler-filled review, you can find it at the very bottom of this page. Let me say right off the bat that I wasn’t even planning on watching this movie let alone reviewing it. What turned me around after the boring, trite, and eye-rollingly bad second entry to this trilogy was a thought that occurred to me after mishearing that the film would partially involve the Covid-19 pandemic. That thought was: what if Michael dies from covid? 

That would be so fucking funny, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to find out for myself if that’s how things would play out. As I said, sadly this was misheard information, but the way this film unfolded was actually better, though less funny. Thus, I came away from Halloween Ends surprised, satisfied, and entertained. Is this movie perfect? No. But is it a pretty good watch? I really do think so, and that’s a rare sentiment for me when it comes to the Halloween series. Especially after Halloween Kills. You can find my thoughts on that pile of dogshit somewhere down below. Thankfully, you don’t have to watch it to enjoy Halloween Ends.

October 21 - The Night House

Film: The Night House

Where to watch: HBO Max

Rating: 3/5

Has some pretty neat, spooky stuff going on. I think I would rate it a bit higher if it didn’t show its hand so much near the end, but that’s a common horror problem, so I’m not docking it too many points. The scares are fairly effective, there’s some great imagery, and the lead actress gives a fantastic performance. There are some holes here and there, but overall, a solid film.

October 22 - V/H/S/94

Film: V/H/S/94

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 3/5

You can always count on a V/H/S anthology to be gory, shocking, disgusting, fun, and, most of all, stupid. V/H/S/94 delivers on what the rest of the series has promised, and it’s probably my favorite entry in the franchise so far, though I’m going to dock it some points for having an extremely cringey ending. If you sit down to give this one a go, make sure you’re approaching it knowing that you’re in for a lot of nonsense.

October 23 - Crimes of the Future

Film: Crimes of the Future

Where to watch: Currently only available to rent

Rating: 4/5

A good Cronenberg is like nothing else. His films are always full of fantastic spectacle, but they also leave you with something to chew on for the days, weeks, months to follow. Crimes of the Future has given me a lot to digest, but as with any film this unique, I can only give a qualified recommendation. If you’re a Cronenberg fan, you should certainly watch it. If you’re not, but you still enjoy thought-provoking, artful cinema, you should certainly watch it. If you want something light or escapist or brainless (which is sometimes what I’m looking for myself), try a different movie. There are some good popcorn movies in this very list 😉 

October 24 - Kuwaresma

Film: Kuwaresma

Where to watch: Currently only available to rent

Rating: 1.5/5

I almost didn’t include this film on this list. The reason I decided to, in the end, is so I can maybe warn a few other trans people away from it. Or, at least prepare you for what you’re going to get if you choose to watch Kuwaresma. The main character, Luis, is trans. And as is so often the case in cis-created cinema, this is treated insultingly and with casual transphobia. The framing of Luis’ transness is that he “convinced” himself he was a boy to avoid his father’s abuse, and to gain some degree of control in his life. 

This is not only a transphobic narrative, but an actively dangerous message to send. I don’t even really want to talk about this movie much more because I’m so disappointed by that aspect of it, but if I had to give it some praise, I’d say the acting, set design, and cinematography were all great. The story is a muddled, half-baked mess and it’s full of hackneyed jumpscares, so on the whole, a mediocre movie at best with a dash of transphobia to really round it out. Oh, and the cherry on top: it’s too fucking long.

October 25 - Howling Village

Film: Howling Village

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Rating: 2/5

Kind of a dud. It’s fine enough for a half-hearted watch, but not really bringing anything special to the table. The atmosphere is completely unscary, and the effects are lame as hell, probably because they’re trying to be realistic instead of showing me something interesting. I was interested in the story, but the delivery did nothing for me.

October 26 - Knife + Heart

Film: Knife + Heart

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 5/5

After reading the synopsis for Knife+Heart, my first thought was “this movie was made specifically for me,” and I was so incredibly correct. Giallo-inspired! Soundtrack by M83! Explicitly homosexual! What more could I ask for? I won’t say it was a perfect film, but it was perfect for me. I’m trying to exercise some restraint and not drone on and on about this one, so I’ll sum it up by saying it’s simply fantastic entertainment and I’m in love with it. TW for sexual assault.

October 27 - Still/Born

Film: Still/Born

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 2/5

I was going to write about Bodies Bodies Bodies here, but I never got around to seeing it. So instead of something reportedly sort of goofy but good, and full of insufferable characters, I watched something rather bleak with mostly okay characters. This whole movie was pretty much just that: mostly okay. It lost me a bit during the obligatory “meet a previous victim” sequence, and any of the other times they had the antagonistic entity speak. Its voice made me giggle. Other than that, though, I kind of liked it. Well-trod territory aside, it had a decent spookiness factor, wasn’t over-long, and didn’t always play its typical horror movie beats in a completely typical way.

October 28 - The Medium

Film: The Medium

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 3.5/5

I have a lot of mixed feelings about The Medium. On the one hand, I think it’s a good horror movie. It’s scary, it’s disturbing, it’s gory. I actually felt a little bit freaked out after I watched it, and that’s no mean feat considering that I’ve been voraciously consuming horror content since I was a small child. However, with a runtime of over 2 hours, I think we all know what I’m going to say here. It’s too fucking long. It simply is.

It stood out to me even more when I realized that this is a sibling film, in essence, to The Wailing, an even longer film which I felt wasted far less of my time. I’m not saying what I was served over the course of this film was pointless or worthless, I’m just saying some additional editing could have gone a long way. Cut down the number of B-roll shots of (beautiful) scenery, maybe. Or include fewer frames of interstitial action. Remove, perhaps, one or two of the many nightcam sequences wherein samey possession-related things happen. Something! Do SOMETHING about it. Frustration over that aside, my second gripe with this film is that it doesn’t maintain its documentary feel well. In fact, it seems like the fact that it’s supposed to be a mockumentary is thrown away entirely on numerous occasions, the most egregious instances occurring during the climactic events of the story which I won’t spoil. Let me just say that I sighed the loudest as a camera was pointed directly into the face of something antagonistic as someone was being mauled. It jolted me directly out of my suspension of disbelief, and after that, I no longer felt the cold, coiled dread that had been building in the pit of my stomach anymore. I just sat back and thought “ok, so now we’re doing this I guess.” And it felt like a different movie had started. I’m not saying all of this is necessarily a terrible thing, or that it completely ruins the movie. I mean, I gave it the score I did for a reason, and what I said in the first few sentences stands. It’s just annoying that I think an even better movie is lurking inside of this one and some adjustment could really make it shine. Still, if you’re up for the 2 hour and 10 minute endeavor of soaking this in, it hits a lot of horror buttons and it hits ’em right.

October 29 - The Wretched

Film: The Wretched

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 3/5

I liked it! It didn’t blow me away, but it has decent entertainment value, and I think that’s just fine. It gave me what I wanted but also contained a lot of cool, unexpected bits. This is a rarity for me, but I actually wish this film was a bit longer to allow for some additional fleshing out.

October 30 - Blood Red Sky

Film: Blood Red Sky

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 1/5

Not really sure where some of the good ratings I’ve seen for this are coming from. What I will give it is that it goes for a real nasty, old-school kind of vampirism that I like quite a lot. On the other hand, there’s the rest of the movie which is plainly bad. The hijackers are irritating and unconvincing rather than intimidating. The passengers are even more annoying. And the son of our protagonist is one of the most frustrating characters I’ve seen put to film in some time. I would have at least been somewhat on board with certain parts if they weren’t so completely ridiculous yet lacking in joy. If you’re going to throw so much unhinged nonsense into your film, please at least make it fun.

October 31 - V/H/S/99

Film: V/H/S/99

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 2.5/5

After watching V/H/S/94 for this list, I was pretty excited and surprised to see 99 pop up on Shudder so soon. It’s only been a year since 94 released. Sadly, that was the better entry to the series, and I have to wonder if the lack of time between releases has anything to do with the drop in quality. Still, I can’t say this was terrible, as far as V/H/S films go. 

It had some segments I really enjoyed, and it pleased me to see that they opted not to hang the anthology on a framework story this time around, since that’s often the weakest part of these films. They instead went for something that was a little goofy, but certainly in line with the V/H/S brand. Anyways, on to the short films. I won’t go too into detail on what I thought of each. Suffice it to say, 2 and 4 were the weakest of the bunch, with creatures that often looked like Spirit Halloween decorations and storylines and characters that were actively grating and devoid of the fun I want from a V/H/S film. The fifth story, To Hell and Back, isn’t particularly great either, but features some cool makeup and a somewhat interesting setup, at least. My second favorite, Shredding, was mostly bolstered by its stylistic elements rather than plot, but it’s always fun seeing someone get their just desserts. Speaking of which, the standout, by far, was Ozzy’s Dungeon. This was the segment I was most excited for, and the one that left me the most entertained. After watching (most of) Kuso, I was interested to see more work from Flying Lotus in the film world. Because even though Kuso wasn’t really my thing – and I wouldn’t recommend it to almost anyone – I appreciated the intent and parts of what was presented in it. I was glad to see some of what intrigued me in Kuso in Ozzy’s Dungeon, and the visuals, music, and effects were fantastic. All-in-all, even though 94 had set the bar slightly higher than normal, I went into this knowing what I was likely to get from V/H/S. It was still mostly the goofy, weird, fun experience I’ve come to expect, it just didn’t hit as hard as its prequel, and it dragged a bit too much during certain segments.

Last Year's List

I attempted to do all of this last year and failed to follow through since I went for it last-minute, so instead of just scrapping what I DID get done, here’s some more movie reviews! 

Possessor

Film: Possessor 

Where to watch: Hulu

Rating: 3/5

If you watch this film, do yourself a favor and seek out the version that is NOT the director’s cut. Normally, I would never make that recommendation, but for this movie, I absolutely insist. I say this because personally I think the director’s cut undermines the movie’s message. Setting that point aside, this movie is a thrilling, twisted, and gut-wrenching experience.

The Vast of Night

Film: The Vast of Night

Where to watch: Prime Video

Rating: 3.5/5

The Vast of Night is a weird little movie. It’s tense, sad, and strange. Its pacing is frenetic and panicked at first, and then suddenly it stops and goes quiet. And overall, I found it really affecting. That said, I don’t know if I can recommend it because I’m fairly certain next to no one I talk to would enjoy it.

Apostle

Film:  Apostle 

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 3/5

Apostle has some of my favorite things in it: old god culty stuff, a witch-like creature, revenge, jarring violence. I will say, it’s not scary, nor does it seem like it’s really trying to be, but it is a decent film.

Proxy

Film: Proxy 

Where to watch: Prime Video

Rating: 2/5

Proxy is an absolutely wild ride. At no point during this movie did I know what was going to happen next, literally right up until the end. It has its issues – some questionable acting, an obviously low budget, a second half that drags so much I ended up on my phone more than once – but overall, it’s a surprising, sort of interesting film. If you like to watch basically anything you can get your hands on like me, you’ll probably find something to enjoy in this one.

Excision

Film: Excision

Where to watch: Tubi

Rating: 2.5/5

This movie is fucked up and kind of ridiculous, but also pretty entertaining. At the same time, I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re looking for something scary. If you’re like me, the hardest part of watching this movie will be all the second-hand embarrassment, not fear or tension. It seems to be intent on disturbing and upsetting the viewer rather than frightening us. I will say it’s quite gory throughout, but mostly in a kind of goofy way. At least up until a certain point when the creeping horror of what’s happening sets in.

Maniac

Film: Maniac

Where to watch: Tubi

Rating: 1.5/5

Here’s the thing about this movie, I can’t say it’s bad, it just wasn’t for me. I don’t know what it was about it that I disliked so much, but I did not enjoy watching it at all. I think that may be the point, so perhaps it achieved its intended effect on me, but I’ve left other movies not necessarily having enjoyed them while still taking something away from the experience. That wasn’t the case here. It’s a disturbing, quick movie, and it’s interesting in that it follows the first-person perspective of the killer, but it left me a bit underwhelmed.

Halloween Kills

Film: Halloween Kills

Where to watch: Peacock

Rating: 0/5

This movie, much like the old Halloween sequels, moved quickly from fun to cringey while also committing the sin of taking itself way too seriously. It’s also chock full of so many stupid, unfun, dry death scenes that I zoned out for almost all of them. And let’s not forget the fact that it thinks it’s making some kind of revelatory social commentary. Anyways, did you know that evil dies tonight?

Malignant

Film: Malignant

Where to watch: HBO Max

Rating: 4/5

Let’s just get this out of the way: Malignant will not be for everyone. However, if you love giallos, maybe give it a shot. If you love weird, ridiculous, wild shit, absolutely give it a shot. I’ve been entertained every time I’ve watched it, and if nothing else, it’s a fantastic movie to watch with other people simply to see their reactions. 

The Call

Film: The Call

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 4/5

Though it’s considered a thriller and not strictly horror, I think The Call is more than suitable for the Halloween season. I happened across it on Netflix and therefore wasn’t expecting much, but it turned out to be pretty interesting. It has some downfalls, the main one being the CGI, but it wasn’t egregious enough for me not to recommend the film.

The Howling

Film: The Howling

Where to watch: Prime Video

Rating: 3.5/5

This film explores a werewolf dynamic we don’t normally see put to film, contains social commentary that steps outside of the typical werewolf box, and the unsavory elements of the book the film is based on are displayed with great restraint (a credit to Joe Dante). I was also surprised that this movie came out in the 80s because it retains a grit and groundedness that was often scrubbed away as film shifted gears from the 70s to the 80s.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Film: Scary Stories to Tell
in the Dark

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 3/5

I avoided watching this for so long in large part because I have a lot of nostalgia for the books it’s based on and I assumed I would be disappointed. However, this movie did a pretty good job of bringing my favorite parts of the original books to life and threaded those things between a plot I found engaging if a little silly. A lot of films of this type ruin the tension they build near the end when too much starts happening simultaneously and the scenes become action-oriented rather than suspenseful. 

I think, unfortunately, this film fell into that trap a bit and the “Me Tie Doughty Walker” section stopped being creepy and tense and became boring. If I didn’t see another “driving around with a monster on top of the car” scene for 50 years, it would be too fucking soon. Still, the movie immediately gained back some points in the next part, which I won’t spoil. All I’ll say is this movie was a much better watch than I’d anticipated, and though I have my issues with it I had a good time, overall.

The Blackcoat's Daughter

Film: The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 4.5/5

This is one of my favorite horror movies. The performances are incredible across the board, which is very necessary in a slow-burn like The Blackcoat’s Daughter. The tone created by the performance of Kiernan Shipka, in particular, is eerie and tense, and the ending is gut-wrenching. If you can’t handle slower-paced fare, maybe skip this, but otherwise, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Mandy

Film: Mandy 

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 4/5

Mandy is pure, unhinged, unabashed, Cage-y goodness. And while I’ve enjoyed his performance more recently in offerings like Pig – a movie that proves that though he is usually typecast, he can still carry a slower, more heartfelt film as well – I was still thrilled to see him return to form after some other somewhat disappointing film appearances. Mandy is a glorious marriage of the raw power and insanity of a committed Nicolas Cage performance, and the psychedelic stylings of Panos Cosmatos. If you like weird, crazy, trippy movies with a lot of creative violence, Mandy is well-worth a watch.

Beyond the Black Rainbow

Film: Beyond the Black Rainbow

Where to watch: Fubo TV

Rating: 3.5/5

Speaking of Panos Cosmatos, Beyond the Black Rainbow is another of his films which I can only hesitantly endorse. Personally, I was a big fan. It’s unsettling, it has a unique tone and feel, and it’s visually delightful. I recommended this to my mom, who’s also a fan of weird shit, and she disliked it a lot, so I can’t say it’s for everyone. I couldn’t even particularly put my finger on who it’s for, exactly, but at least one person on that list is me.

Starry Eyes

Film: Starry Eyes

Where to watch: Tubi

Rating: 2.5/5

Intensely uncomfortable to watch, start-to-finish. I think if you’re a woman, or have been perceived and treated like a woman, it’s a bit harder to stomach. That being said, I quite liked the ending. The middle bits were kind of what I struggled with. It’s not that I didn’t like them at all, it’s just that normally this sort of story – one in which a woman slowly turns to evil – satisfies me more when she’s not subjected to your standard forms of misogynistic abuse and humiliation. Be warned, there’s a fair bit of that in the film. But it’s a fun watch regardless if you can stomach those scenes.

St. Maud

Film: St. Maud

Where to watch: Prime Video

Rating: 4.5/5

First off, I will give the warning that there is a very short rape scene in this film. Even leaving that scene aside, this movie got under my skin and confronted me in exactly the way I appreciate from a good horror film. I will give my little review of a very similar movie below, but what I think separates this one from that is purely the tone. It only gets more and more grim. If that’s not something you enjoy, it won’t be for you, but if you’re someone who likes challenging, psychological horror, you will enjoy St. Maud.

Censor

Film: Censor 

Where to watch: Hulu

Rating: 3.5/5

As mentioned in the above review of St. Maud, Censor spins a sort of similar yarn. I won’t go into too much detail about the content of either, but even if I were to spoil them, they’re worth the watch for the performances, the storycraft, and if you’re a fan of such things, some of the more jarring, violent moments. I would say Censor is a little more goofy, almost, compared to St. Maud. It never veers fully into schlock, but it gets very close on several occasions, and the ending also toes the line between silly and unsettling. Still, a fun watch and a creepy movie.

One Cut of the Dead

Film: One Cut of the Dead

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 4/5

I won’t say too much about this movie aside from this: it’s an absolute delight. I can think of very few flaws, and I won’t even name them because who cares? It’s lighthearted, it’s fun, and it’s short. You couldn’t ask for more in a good comedy horror film, in my opinion.

The Invisible Man

Film: The Invisible Man

Where to watch: Freevee

Rating: 4/5

I’m normally not much of a fan of thrillers, nor of reboots of classic horror movies/monsters, but The Invisible Man is really fantastic. The reimagining of the character is novel, the tension the film builds up is genuinely thrilling, and the ending was everything I wanted.

Off-List Recommendations

Even though I relish being a hater, after so many ugly reviews, I thought I’d end with some unabashed positivity and list a small selection of my favorite horror films. Enjoy!

The Taking of Deborah Logan

Film: The Taking of Deborah
Logan

Where to watch: Prime Video

Rating: 4/5

This movie is a banger, and one which I think deserves more recognition.

Lake Mungo

Film: Lake Mungo

Where to watch: Tubi

Rating: 5/5

Deeply unsettling. One of the best horror films and best found footage films ever made, as far as I’m concerned.

Martyrs (2008)

Film: Martyrs

Where to watch: Tubi

Rating: 4/5

Listen, this is going to sound weird, but this movie used to be a comfort film for me. Like I think I’ve watched it a few dozen times at least because I would go to sleep with it on. Definitely mental health related, so I’m not going to delve into why. I’m also not going to lie and say this is for the faint of heart, and I’m also not going to pretend like a movie in which exclusively young women are tortured is beyond criticism, but I will proclaim that this is a fantastic film, and one I recommend if you’re up to it.

Prey

Film: Prey​

Where to watch: Hulu

Rating: 5/5

What are you even doing if you haven’t watched this yet? It’s fun, surprisingly emotional, lovely, and so deeply satisfying in a number of ways.

Noroi: The Curse

Film: Noroi: The Curse​

Where to watch: Shudder

Rating: 5/5

If you’re a horror fan, odds are you’ve seen this or heard of it. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and give it a chance. If you aren’t convinced by that simple endorsement, let me also say that though this film is long, it doesn’t waste your time. It’s a wonderfully crafted slow-burn, the kind that reminds me what I love about well executed slow-burns. And if you’ve seen some of the other reviews I’ve written here, I’m sure you know by now that I’m a stickler for movies not overstaying their welcome. 

I love a good mockumentary, I love good found-footage horror, and I love cryptic mysteries told with great care. Noroi is all of these things, and that’s what has made it into such an iconic piece of horror cinema.

Creep (and Creep 2)

Film: Creep and Creep 2

Where to watch: Netflix

Rating: 4/5

I’m always trying to get more people on the Creep train. It’s a very special movie, and one of the few with a sequel that is just as good and possibly even better than the original. This is the kind of horror that will make you uncomfortable more than anything else, but it’s so very good and so very effective.

May

Film: May​

Where to watch: Tubi/Shudder

Rating: 4/5

I wanted to throw a little curveball in here because horror comes in a lot of different shapes, flavors, essences… etc. but I often stay in my favored lanes; I love the gory and the supernatural. But I think it’s worth exploring some films in the genre that aren’t precisely what most people think of when they imagine horror. May is one of my favorite movies in that vein. It has such strong intention and characterization, and – without giving much away – the ending does not merely shock or disgust or terrify, it touches your soul. I hope that intrigues you enough to watch this movie, because it’s a truly affecting piece of cinema.

Halloween Ends (SPOILERS AHEAD)

I wanted to give a more thorough review of Halloween Ends because realistically, it’s one of the bigger, more notable releases on this list, and I did have quite a few thoughts on it. Firstly, many reviewers were not, but I was completely on-board with the main plot of this movie. Especially because, going into it, I had steeled myself for yet another endless, boring Michael killing spree. Weirdly, I feel like most reviewers have complained about the same thing in the past, yet when the creators give us something different, it’s also a problem? I don’t know what the fuck those folks want, but personally, I wanted this. I wanted a story that explored a different aspect of the Michael Meyers legacy without following the same structure of every single other Halloween movie. I wanted a story that brought back some of the psychological elements of the original while also adding something fresh to the mix. I wanted the story of Laurie Strode to reach its conclusion, one way or another… Actually, strictly speaking, none of that is 100% true. What I really wanted was this entire series put to bed after the fun little schlock-fest that was Halloween 3, and for Halloween 2 to be burned from our collective memory. And then I wanted it put to bed a second time after Halloween (2018). But if we we had to have a sequel (and we did, because of money), this is what I wanted from it. I liked the concept of someone else taking on the Meyers mantle, un-subtle though its execution may have been. I enjoyed watching this kid enact his gruesome vengeance and slowly become the next personification of evil, and if they had taken that course and run with it, starting a whole new saga, I wouldn’t have been too angry about it even if I’m dying for them to incinerate the rancid corpse that this franchise has become. But of course, we can’t have nice things, and the point where the movie broke down and disappointed me was when they rehashed the Laurie vs. Michael fight AGAIN. How many times must we see this? I enjoyed it more the first time, in Halloween (2018). But ok, fine, we have to do this in every single one of these fucking things so whatever. At the very least, they had the courtesy to make it really funny. Laurie essentially crucifies Michael on her kitchen island, then leans the fridge on his leg. She of course takes her time knifing him properly, so he unskewers one of his hands by just rippin’ right through it (lol), then chokes her out one last time. He almost gets her, too, mostly because she’s finally had enough and starts to give in, but then her granddaughter shows up and snaps his fucking arm like a twig. At which point I was howling with laughter. Finally, Laurie slits his wrist. Fin. Then came an even funnier scene. The cops show up, and they tie Micheal’s body to the top of a car. There’s a moment where you can hear some of the background officers going like “hey, this isn’t how we do things guys, come on.” But the sherriff shows up and says “tonight it is,” or something like that, and I giggled. The cursory attention given to standard procedure was quite funny to me, though I don’t think it’s intended to be as laughable as it is. I like that they give that nod and then go, “yeah, we really mean the Ends part of Halloween Ends. This mf is going in the shredder.” I was grinning throughout the sequence, because they’re finally doing what no horror movie dummies ever get to do: truly destroy the boogeyman. And destroy him they do. The townsfolk of Haddonfield all come out in force to crowd-surf Michael’s body to the industrial grinder and then part like the Red Sea to allow Laurie her final goodbye. We get a blood-explosion shot of Mikey’s body getting ate up, and it’s over, just like that. It had me kicking my feet like a child because man is it trying to be serious, but it’s just entertainingly goofy. That’s why I really can’t be mad at this film even with this tacked on bullshit at the end. I enjoyed the main story, I laughed at the end, and I sighed with relief that I won’t be seeing another one of these goddamn things for at least a few years. So I hope, anyways. I don’t know if I can bring myself to watch another one if they do bring it back. As much as I enjoy that John Carpenter is forever getting run his money off the back of this series, as I mentioned earlier, I would like for it to die. Its ability to induce fear has long since faded due in part to the original run of sequels, whose premises became more and more absurd, consequently making Michael less and less scary. And in part due to the multiple resurrections it has now endured. From Robb Zombie’s films, the first of which was so terrible, they turned the lights on in the theater I was watching it in so we could all laugh and talk more easily since we were already getting rowdy less than an hour in. To this new trilogy, which had some decent entries – this and Halloween – and one of the worst sequels to anything I’ve ever seen – Halloween Kills. I truly hope this property finally gets to rest in tiny, ground up pieces much like Michael’s old, fucked up sewer body. Did I mention he lived in the sewer in this one? Yeah. Maybe they’ll add a nasty sewer mask skin for him in DBD. I’d enjoy that.

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