Black Christmas (2019) – Coal In My Stocking

Released: 13th December
Seen: 14th December

When we look back at the history of the horror genre and specifically the modern American slasher film we end up having a few early films that could claim ownership of being the first of that subgenre. Black Christmas, a 1974 film by director Bob Clark, is regularly cited as one of the earliest slasher films and a major influence on everyone who followed. It was notable for having a cast of almost all women and for never showing the face of the killer, known only as ‘Billy’. While it was only a modest box office success at the time it’s gone on to get the accolades it deserves for its genuinely groundbreaking narrative and aesthetic… and then someone remade it in 2006, sucked out every bit of subtlety and intelligence from the film and made something that’s almost emblematic of what not to do with a slasher movie remake. So naturally, when another remake of Black Christmas was announced, people were sceptical… and then they announced it would include lots of feminism and the people on the internet who like to claim they know about horror movies but clearly never saw the original Black Christmas lost their freaking minds for all the wrong reasons when they should’ve waited to see the film and lose their minds because it’s just not that good.

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Knives Out (2019) – It Murdered Me

Released: 28th November
Seen: 23rd November (Advance Screening)

One of my favourite films of all time is the immortal Clue, the camp murder mystery based on the board game of the same name… in the states, in Australia it was named Cluedo for reasons I don’t understand. Everything about it makes me so happy from its quotable dialogue to the crazy camp characters to the luscious set that just begs you to enjoy every element of it. The film is a cult classic but it contains one massive flaw… no way in hell could you actually solve that thing. It has three different endings and all of them rely on information the audience never gets until the moment Wadsworth starts running around and telling everyone who did it. For years I was waiting for a movie to come around with great dialogue, crazy fun characters and a murder mystery that actually feels solvable as the plot comes out… and Rian Johnson clearly heard my plea because he made that exact film and I love it so much.

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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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Wounds (2019) – It Hurts

Released: 18th October
Seen: 26th October

The end of October is a great time to put out every horror movie, no matter what the content or style is. It’s a time when the slashers, the zombies, the vampires and just the flat out weird as hell horror films have their time in the sun. You could release pretty much anything horror related during October and it’d be appropriate. You can release great horror films and even awful horror films, bad movie nights are a thing and a bad horror movie around Halloween is a gift for people wanting something gloriously stupid to laugh at… and then there’s Wounds, a bland horror movie that tries its hardest to be creepy and weird and never fully gets there, though not for a lack of trying.

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Ready Or Not (2019) – Here I Come

Released: 24th October
Seen: 25th October

One great trick Horror movies can pull out to create an engaging story is to take a mundane game of some kind and introduce the element of death. There have been horror movies about video games that will kill the player should they lose, films that took video poker and added murder victims and last year we even got a film that took Truth or Dare and made it deadly… granted, it didn’t make it good, but it sure did make it deadly. Well, now we have another addition to this little group in the form of Ready or Not, which takes the childhood game of hide and seek and flavours it with a little bit of The Most Dangerous Game for good measure.

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Ad Astra (2019) – Pitt In Spaaace

Released: 19th September
Seen: 9th October

A space movie is always hard to get just right. The idea of someone floating around in the vastness of space? It’s a cool effect that’s hard to recreate on earth, and that’s before you worry about things like sound in the vacuum of space or just how potentially dangerous it is. The hardest part about big space movies is trying to find a good story using the location. When the location is the vast emptiness of space, that can really work well as a metaphor or just to create some danger. Gravity, as an example, is basically a film about someone lost at sea and could’ve told the exact same story on earth but they wanted to make it a space movie because it’s more visually interesting. That movie was also praised as the most realistic space movie of all time – and now a new contender has come to try and claim that crown. I don’t think it’s the most realistic ever, but it’s certainly got some of the best performances.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) – The Library Is Open!

Released: 26th September
Seen: 5th October

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was a series of books from 1981 to 1991 written by Alvin Schwartz. There were three books in total, each one filled with almost 30 short stories that terrified an entire generation, not only because the stories themselves were terrifying but the illustrations associated with each story were so infamously scary. They are not only legendary best-sellers but they’re also infamously some of the most banned books in school libraries because of the violence described and the macabre topics like cannibalism (which I just thought was a regular weekend activity, you learn a new thing every day). To shock no one, I didn’t read these books growing up. Firstly, they were big before I was old enough to even be able to say the word “Book” and secondly, I was more of a Goosebumps kid. I did try to hunt down a copy of the books before I went to see the movie but I guess my local library must’ve been one of the ones to ban them and the only copy is the brand new one that is a tie in for this movie and I’m not paying 50 bucks to read some short stories, thankyou very much. This does allow me to answer the question of whether this film works without knowing the source material. The short answer is… kinda?

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Murder Mystery (2019) – Whodumbit?

Released: 14th June
Seen: 25th August

The murder mystery genre has been kind of slow lately, the last major film in the genre being the Murder on the Orient Express way back in 2017. It’s always been a pretty fascinating genre, a large scale whodunit where someone is murdered and we follow the investigation into who the killer is. Often these movies would maybe take place in one location with everyone staying put so they could figure out who the killer was without having it spread. It’s also a genre that’s ripe for parody, as films like Murder by Death or Clue have proven how the genre can be taken to create some genuinely great comedy… and then there’s Murder Mystery, the store brand version of a comedy-mystery movie with all the ingredients and none of the flavour.

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Midsommar (2019) – Sommar In The City

Released: 14th August
Seen: 22nd August

In 2018, Ari Aster burst onto the scene with his critical darling Hereditary. It’s possibly one of the most tension-filled films in recent memory with a performance by its lead that can best be described as “Should’ve gotten an Oscar nomination and would’ve if the Academy had anything resembling a functioning brain”. It was a delightfully terrifying film that I ended up giving a three out of five because the ending really threw me. With over a year to think about that, while the ending really did spoil the tension for me I have to admit it deserved at least a four from me so keep that in mind as I’m going to be pitting Midsommar against Hereditary, because Ari Aster is such a unique filmmaker that his current work can only be properly compared to his other work.

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Long Weekend (1978) – If You Go Down To The Woods Today… Don’t

On this blog, I tend to stick to current releases, specifically things that came out the same year I wrote them since this entire blog came to be out of a need for me to try and see every film when it came out. This has meant that films from last year that I missed don’t get talked about and I haven’t done any classic films. Basically, it’s been nothing but new films, old editorials and Drag Race reviews and two of those things aren’t being done anymore SO from now on I’m going to try and do one review of an older film a week. Maybe it’ll be something you’ve heard of, maybe you’ll have no idea what the hell I’m talking about (a common response) but I’m trying something here so let’s see how it goes. To start with let’s go back to 1978 and talk about a classic bit of Australian cinema, Long Weekend.

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