Countdown (2019) – Please Be The Final

Released: 24th October
Seen: 27th November

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Horror is a very silly genre. Almost by design, it’s a genre that will look at something in everyday life and say “What if we did that, but made it deadly”. Stephen King is the master of this, he took cars and cell phones and long grass and found a way to make them terrifying. Sometimes horror also takes something, makes it deadly, and then acknowledges how silly that is. Jack Frost, for example, is about a killer snowman… there is no way on earth to make that scary, so you lean into the comic absurdity of it. So naturally when you hear a plot idea like “It’s an app that kills you”, I kind of expected something a little tongue in cheek… I also expected something fun and I really need to stop doing that because it tends to not happen when I want it to.

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Widows Walk (2019) – Walk On

Released: 16th December
Seen: 18th November (Lift-Off Film Festival)

When it comes to ghost stories, it’s very hard to get a truly great one. Ghosts are the kind of horror movie creature that can either be genuinely terrifying or goofy as hell with very little in between. I tend to like ghost movies more when the ghosts are used as some kind of metaphor, either for repressed emotions or for grief, because that lets these apparitions be used for something interesting instead of just “an excuse to make a closing door scary”. This movie used ghosts as a metaphor for grief, but it also needed to work a bit on its structure.

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The Addams Family (2019) – *Snap Snap*

Released: 5th December
Seen: 23rd November (Advance Screening)

In 1938 Charles Addams created a cartoon about a strange family for the New Yorker. It was a satirical take on the modern family that ran for 150 single-panel cartoons and gained a following. Enough of a following that in 1964 a TV series was greenlit and that series, though it only lasted for two seasons, would be responsible for giving every member of this family their names and set the tone that people would come to expect from these characters. The series would continue to be adapted into many forms from cartoons to new live-action series to the two 90s Addams Family movies everyone loves (Don’t deny it) and even a stage musical. Now it’s a big bold animated movie, another in the recent trend of “Franchises that refuse to die” and like a lot of films in that trend, you don’t need to see this one.

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Morbid Stories (2019) – Story Time

Released: 22nd October
Seen: 19th November

Every now and then there’ll be an indie filmmaker who’ll send me a link to their film. It’s happened a few times so far, things like Hate Crime or Violence Voyager were little indie companies trying to spread the word about their film and I’m always happy to talk about them. Indie films do tend to get treated differently because we understand that these are films made usually by first time directors who are honing their craft and working on their skills. Allowances need to be made for a difference in budget and availability of resources so keep that in mind while we look at a new anthology film called Morbid Stories. Being an anthology film, the only real way to talk about it is by talking about each short film that makes up the anthology itself, because each one was made by a different crew and director with different visions and it’s unfair to paint them all with the same brush when they’re really different in quality and tone. I want you to remember one key thing… I was sent this, I wouldn’t have reviewed it if I wasn’t asked to.

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Zombieland 2: Double Tap (2019) – Filling like a Twinkie

Released: 17th October
Seen: 11th November

Zombieland 2: Double Tap is a film that exists for reasons I don’t quite understand. At least, I don’t understand why it exists right now. In 2009 when the original Zombieland came out in cinemas it was still a good time for Zombie-related media, the hit series The Walking Dead was still a year away so having a comedy film about a bunch of people surviving in a zombie wasteland felt fresh and new. The style choices and tone all felt like something we hadn’t seen before and it was one of the funniest films of the time and still holds up today. It’s not like they didn’t try to get a sequel out right away, but everything languished in development hell so long that now we’re so far past the prime time for Zombie movies that Disney felt like they could do one. So how do you make a comedic take on a topic that’s already been wrung dry? Well… you just do the same stuff you did the last time only with a tiny upgrade in the technology and the zombies.

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The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019) – UGGGH

Released: 5th April
Seen: 6th November

When we look through history for the point when certain eras ended, we tend to look for major events that were turning points. It can be argued that the 60s, the era of free love, ended on August 9th 1969 when actress Sharon Tate and four of her friends were brutally murdered by the Manson Family (who I shall henceforth refer to as as “that pack of murdering assholes” because I’m the one typing this and I get to be as petty as I want!). The vile crime was historic in how shocking it was and the man who inspired it (now dead, YAY) was instantly recognized as the face of true evil. It’s a tragedy that people keep revisiting in film, to varied results. It’s usually incredibly tasteless, focusing on that pack of murdering assholes and they never have good acting. The one time I can think of when someone did something good with the entire horrific affair was earlier this year when Once Upon A Time In Hollywood did a “What If?” story where Sharon never even had to know who that pack of murdering assholes was… so, naturally, in the same year we get the best possible version of a retelling of the Sharon Tate murders we also have to get the absolute worst version because we live in a hellscape and everything is awful.

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47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019) – A Sinking Feeling

Released: 31st October
Seen: 5th November

In 2017 a low budget horror film called 47 Meters Down hit cinemas. With a budget of only $5 Million, it ended up bringing in over $60 million worldwide. It wasn’t exactly Jaws but it was a fun little horror film with a simple premise, a pair of main characters who were intelligent and likable and a simple set of stakes that made it easy to get sucked in and enjoy the mostly mindless fun. While not a classic, it was enjoyable and would easily do the job on any scary movie night if you needed something to add to a mini-marathon… and then someone decided to do a sequel, but with all the good ideas taken out and replaced with dumb ones, because that always works well.

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Cut (2000) – A Little Dull

A few months ago I talked about a movie called Porno, a comedy movie about a cursed porno film that summons a demon when played. It’s a brilliant idea that was just not quite done right so naturally I wanted to see if someone had done a serious version of this idea and it turns out that back in 2000, someone did the “Character from a film comes to life to kill people” idea in a little Australian slasher film called Cut. The film came out in 2000 and boasts an alarming 11% on Rotten Tomatoes, at the time barely making a half million at the Australian box office. This is partially due to bad marketing and just bad timing since a comedy slasher film in the year 2000 wasn’t exactly rare. This was also the point in the horror genre where we were up to the third Scream movie, self-aware horror had kind of been wrung dry and Cut got lost in the shuffle. It only just recently got re-released in a 4K restoration and that’s what I got to see so… does it get better with age? Not really, but I can appreciate its cheese a lot more.

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Rabid (2019) – I’m Infected

Released: 12th October
Seen: 1st November

Out of all the directors whose work I never thought would be remade, David Cronenberg is up the top of the list. How could you remake anything he did? His work is so influential that it’s credited with the popularization of the body horror genre with his early work like Videodrome, Scanners and The Fly. His work is so strange and visceral that the idea that someone would even consider remaking any of them feels like a recipe for disaster. Enter the Soska Sisters who took the risk and remade one of Cronenberg’s earliest films, the epidemic-driven horror film Rabid.

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The Furies (2019) – Beauty And The Deceased

Released: 7th November
Seen: 31st October (Monsterfest Film Festival)

The slasher genre is a very recent creation, really only starting in the 60s with the Italian Giallo films and, of course, the immortal Psycho. It reached a golden age in the late 70’s when it became THE genre for budding filmmakers to grab onto since all you needed were some young unknown actors, a sharp object, a bottle of liquid latex and some fake blood to make a film. While it’s never been mainstream, the Slashers have always had an audience that followed it from the early days of Halloween to the straight-to-video era through to the post-modern classics like Scream until the genre entered a slump in the early 2010’s thanks to a deluge of remakes and the rise of films like Paranormal Activity which proved anyone could make a film, even if they didn’t know how to operate a camera and only had bits of string to handle the effects work. Slashers recently have started having a bit of a revival though, with TV series like American Horror Story finally tackling the genre this year and an actual TV series called Slasher, plus the return of genre favourite Halloween. Now we’re entering a period where we can maybe do even more interesting takes on the Slasher genre, which leads to me explaining why The Furies is a gem of a slasher film that will slide right in along the fun goofy films the genre is known for.

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