The Witches (2020) Witches Get Stitches

Released: 10th December
Seen: 20th December

In 1983, Roald Dahl released his 14th novel The Witches and his story of a boy and his grandma going up against a coven of witches has always been somewhat polarizing. On the one hand, it’s a best selling novel that recently appeared on the BBC’s list of Top 100 most influential novels and on the other it’s been accused of being a misogynistic text ever since it released (and considering that the main villain is, essentially, every woman who isn’t a kindly old grandma and it was written by Roald Dahl… yeah, yeah that’s definitely there).

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In Search Of Darkness II (2020) – Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Released: 18th November
Seen: 18th November

In Search of Darkness Part 2 Info

Back in March I talked about a little documentary called In Search Of Darkness, a four-hour long love letter to the 80’s horror film. In short, I felt it was a genuinely great film that was easily digestible, gave a good overview of the genre at the time but had the bad habit of using a lot of films from the same franchise which made it repetitive and robbed the audience of getting to hear about a wider array of films from the decade. So when I found out that they were planning a sequel I had high hopes, even bought it ahead of time, thinking if they could be a little less repetitive with the movies they picked then it could be great…. Sometimes, getting your hopes up can actually end well.

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Freaky (2020) – Freakishly Fun

Released: 12th November
Seen: 12th November

Freaky Info

In 2017 Christopher Landon brought us the movie Happy Death Day, a movie that asked the very simple question “What if Groundhog Day was a horror film?”. The result was one of the most fun slasher films in recent memory, which was followed up by Happy Death Day 2U which was also a lot of fun. This filmmaker has stumbled upon a great little mini-genre that he is clearly going to milk for all it’s worth… take a classic comedy with a mystical element and turn it into a horror movie. Proof that this works? The joyfully fun film Freaky.

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The Empty Man (2020) – Yep, Empty

Released: 23rd October
Seen: 31st October

The Empty Man Info

The Bye Bye Man
The Snowman
The Slenderman

Movies that begin with The and end in Man in the horror genre have lately filled me with dread lately. With the exception of The Invisible Man, I can’t think of a good film with this combination of words in the title so imagine how I felt seeing the poster for The Empty Man. If you thought I was prepared for a long slow boring film that tried far too hard to be smarter than it was, then you know me far too well… and you also just described the film to a T.

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The Craft: Legacy (2020) – Wicked Witchcraft

Released: 28th October
Seen: 29th October

The Craft Info

In 1996 there was a low budget horror film called The Craft. The Craft came out early in the horror resurgence of the 90s, as in it was released about 6 months before the monster hit Scream completely revived the genre. It was a story of four social outcasts who bonded over a shared love of magic and how their usage of it for personal gain and revenge ended up backfiring on them horribly. It’s perhaps best remembered for the completely mental and brilliant performance by Fairuza Balk, a performance that’s so iconic it basically defined her entire career from that point onward. The Craft became somewhat of a cult hit, even influencing the monster hit series Charmed (the theme song from that series was used in this movie, plus the writer-director claimed to have pitched the series and had his idea stolen) so it has quite a legacy… enough that 24 years later we’d finally get a sequel, and not a good one.

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Evil Eye (2020) – You Made A Fool Of Me

Released: 13th October
Seen: 20th October

The “Welcome to the Blumhouse” series on Amazon Prime has been something of an underwhelming series of films but I want to make one thing clear about the entire concept before we begin this final entry… I genuinely love that Blumhouse looked to four minority groups, mostly women and POC and handed them a budget to make a horror film while casting from underrepresented groups. Even if the films themselves haven’t been great, they’ve all shown how easy it is to make a film with underrepresented groups and some serious potential from the filmmakers, two big things that excite me so much. 

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Nocturne (2020) – Creepy Concerto

Released: 13th October
Seen: 17th October

The term Faustian Bargain dates back to German legends that told the tale of a man named Faust who, while bored, called on the devil and made a deal to give Faust knowledge and magic powers. The Devil, being a swell chap, said “Sure but eventually I’m taking your soul for this” and they made a deal. Well, SURPRISE, turns out the Devil is a bit of a dick and Faust’s powers actually ended up corrupting him as a person and soon he was dead and in hell where he became the Devil’s plaything because that’s what happens when you make a Faustian Bargain. This legend is the basis of many horror stories, including Nocturne which is another entry in the Welcome to the Blumhouse Anthology which is an anthology I’m slowly realising is made up of films that Blumhouse probably didn’t think they could sell to a mainstream cinema market so they threw them on Amazon and hoped for the best.

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The Lie (2020) – Pants On Fire

Released: 6th October
Seen: 17th October

The Lie Info

One of the many repeated tropes of horror that has worked time and time again is “Someone does a murder, they or someone who loves them helps them lie to cover it up, the secret comes back to haunt them in the end”. This simple concept has led to literary classics like The Tell-Tale Heart, to cinematic classics like Rope and even been used in fun 90s slashers like I Know What You Did Last Summer. When done right, it’s a setup that creates tension right off the bat and the way the characters react to the knowledge of what they’ve done (or how what they’ve done turns them into the ultimate victims) creates the emotional core of the story… when done wrong you get The Lie.

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Black Box (2020) – Black Mirror Out

Released: 6th October
Seen: 17th October

In recent years, Blumhouse has become the place to go for a shot of good, fun horror. They’re responsible for intelligent gems like Get Out and Happy Death Day, monster hits like The Purge series and revivals like Halloween all came from this one little studio that is known for giving a lot of freedom to directors who are willing to work with a micro budget. Well, in 2020 they would’ve released a new Halloween and Purge movie by this point in the year but, you know, we live in an apocalypse so we can’t have nice things but what we can have is a quadrilogy of horror films that’s been grouped into a series titled “Welcome to the Blumhouse”. Now I’m aware that there’s apparently 8 films in this series but I only have 4 of them out now to review and I don’t know when the other 4 are meant to come out so I’m going with quadrilogy. Now let’s talk about Black Box.

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The Cleansing Hour (2020) – This House Is Cleansed

Released: 8th October
Seen: 12th October

The Cleansing Hour Info

Ever since The Exorcist, the horror genre has treated the idea of demonic possession in a fairly standard way. Introduce a likeable protagonist, have her start behaving strangely, find some way to isolate her and bring in some priests, oops she’s actually the devil and now they have to yell bible verses at her until she returns to the likeable protagonist stage. Along the way some characters might die, some others might have a crisis of faith but in general, that’s the way exorcism movies have gone. It’s very rare for someone to try a new tactic in the exorcism genre of film but fortunately for us, the people behind The Cleansing Hour tried something new and did a great job of it.

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