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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Antebellum (2020) – The Horror Of The Past

Released: 1st October
Seen: 7th October

Antebellum Info

In my review of Vampires vs The Bronx I opened with a lengthy paragraph about how great Horror is when it’s used as a metaphor for some kind of social issue. Race is one that pops up a lot in horror, the genre has always been a useful way to put that issue into ways that can be understood by all. If you would like to know more about the history of race in horror cinema I suggest you go watch Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror which is easy to find, Shudder put it up for free and I’m linking you to it so go and learn. Go and learn so then you can come back here and sit with me as I try to understand why Antebellum just didn’t work for me as much as it could’ve.

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Spiral (2020) – Spinning Right Round Baby

Released: 17th September
Seen: 20th September

Spiral Info

When it comes to queer characters as the leads in horror films, I have to admit I can’t come up with many. Nightmare on Elm Street 2 may have put all the gayness into the subtext but it was still there, genuinely groundbreaking for that time (and the subject of a fascinating documentary that I may have reviewed a while ago). Hellbent was a slasher film that made the bold choice to have all the victims and even the main villain be gay men in West Hollywood. Cursed had a gay supporting character, Scream 4 had one character who claimed they were gay (It might’ve been an attempt to not get stabbed, which didn’t work) and that’s where I run out of films (I know there’s more, damned if I can name them). They’re certainly never really pushed by any big companies or made mainstream, so for Shudder to make a horror movie about a gay couple and link the story explicitly to the gay experience is pretty awesome and the film is… good.

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The Devil All the Time (2020) – The Devil Went Down To Ohio

Released: 11th September
Seen: 18th September

The Devil All the Time Info

In 2011, the novel The Devil All the Time was released and was instantly showered with awards and praise. Written by Donald Ray Pollock as a follow up to his book Knockemstiff, it was a big enough hit that, inevitably, the rights to the book were bought and a film adaptation was announced way back in 2018. Well, now we are here two years later and what did they make? They made… a film. A film with two great performances that is a film, it’s not much more than that.

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Becky (2020) – Oh My God

Released: 10th September
Seen: 15th September

Home invasion movies are a staple of many genres, have been for years but I think we can all agree that they really hit their pinnacle with a little comedy film called Home Alone (sidebar, you know there’s 4 sequels to that movie? AND a reboot that was filming until *gestures at the apocalypse*) that showed us the fun side of what would happen if a pair of criminals broke into the house of a kid who just discovered who Rube Goldberg was. Of course this idea is a big staple of the Horror genre, films like Hush and You’re Next pit a home invader against an intelligent home owner who will defend themselves to the death… and now someone has gone “OK, let’s take the young kid from Home Alone and blend him with the badass women from Hush and You’re Next” and turns out you can get something kind of interesting out of that.

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Dark Waters (2020) – Drink It Up

Released: 5th March
Seen: 30th August

Dark Waters Info

In 2005, chemical company DuPont was fined $16.5 million by the EPA for, essentially, poisoning the water supply of a town with Perfluorooctanoic Acid, a chemical used to create teflon. They were forced to pay this, along with several other settlements with people who they poisoned, thanks to a civil suit filed by Robert Bilott way back in 1999. The full scope of the poisoning and what it did to the people affected by it wouldn’t be known for years and the entire story is one of negligence and capitalism run rampant in a story we’ve heard time and time again, told in the film Dark Waters with a passion that cannot be denied.

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The Rhythm Section Promo Image

The Rhythm Section (2020) – Out Of Sync

Released: 31st January
Seen: 30th August

The Rhythm Section Info

The revenge film is a very popular and versatile film to make with one of the simpler basic plots to work with. Start with a cruel act that ends in someone dead, give that dead person a loved one who is traumatised by the cruel act, that loved one trains themselves to fight in some way and then goes after the person who hurt them. This very basic structure has led to classics like the John Wick trilogy or most of Liam Neeson’s career since the Taken movies. When done right they can be exciting thrillers that make the audience sit on the edge of their seat in genuine terror, when done wrong you get films like Peppermint or today’s selection The Rhythm Section.

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