• Dear Dead Delilah

    Dear Dead Delilah

    ★★★★

    Dear Dead Delilah opens with a deeply unsettling prologue—performance, camerawork, and editing working together to generate some seriously nauseating energy —only to relax into a slightly more conventional bourbon-soaked slasher. Agnes Moorhead is Delilah, matriarch of a declining aristocratic family in Nashville, and in preparation for her demise she leaves $600,000 of “Papa’s horse money” (arson, insurance fraud, racehorses, etc.) to the cousin lucky enough to find it. So begins an evening of axe murders and gaslighting, all structured around a…

  • Bad Dreams

    Bad Dreams

    ★★★½

    Elm Street-adjacent horror in which the long-dead leader of a hippie cult haunts its only surviving member, who's now in psychiatric care after a decade-long coma. If you squint you might catch a glimpse of a metaphor for suicidal ideation, but Andrew Fleming's approach is so fundamentally silly that it barely registers. Bad Dreams is mostly interested in its weirdo supporting cast, their surprisingly gory deaths, and five minutes of Dean Cameron smashing up hospital equipment while screaming about needing…

  • The Manor

    The Manor

    ★★★

    Finally! The one Welcome to Blumhouse entry that actually feels like it could be an extended segment from Creepshow or Tales from the Crypt—a solid, self-contained tale of terror that balances schlocky thrills with poignant thematic underpinnings. Even if a good portion of the cast come across as just reading lines and the production occasionally betrays its budget, there's some really good stuff here. Barbara Hershey, the exploration of aging, and the wonderful del Toro-inspired creature design are each so…

  • Madres

    Madres

    ★★½

    Slow-burn horror with plenty of atmosphere and contemporary resonance, but so so so uneven. For all its intriguing revelations, red herrings (pesticide! curses! ghosts!), and pervasive dread, Madres is constantly bogged down by filmmaking issues: awkward blocking and dialogue, poorly constructed jump scares, and maybe most egregious of all, an absurdly truncated climax. It's hard to describe without getting into spoilers, so suffice to say it feels like an entire act crammed into a single scene. And all throughout, Ryan…

  • The Worst Person in the World

    The Worst Person in the World

    ★★★★★

    Grounded, fantastical, full of digressions, and always alive with possibility, The Worst Person in the World is an episodic portrait of a just-about-30-year-old’s struggle to finding meaning and happiness in the overwhelming imbricated chaos of the early twenty-first century. I love how much stuff the movie pulls into its orbit: education, career, family, love, sex, friendship, creativity, climate change, politics, etc. Trier’s point isn’t to say something specific about any of these arenas, but to reflect how we make our…

  • Killer Island

    Killer Island

    ½

    The next Alyn Darnay-Barbie Castro "killer" collaboration is sadly a bit of a chore. Absent sexually charged fishing trips, high-octane golf cart chases, and a handful of absurd police encounters, there's nothing engagingly weird enough to latch onto. The runtime stretches out in a seemingly endless procession of awkward flirting and lame secrets, none of which hold a candle to the ambient desperation underlying every second of Girlfriend Killer. Ugh.

  • Girlfriend Killer

    Girlfriend Killer

    Budget TV-movie De Palma. After a pep talk from a marriage proposal planner (somehow a thing?!?), a rich weirdo develops an obsession and proceeds to spend much of the runtime brooding around stalker photo collages and stolen sex tape footage. It’s somehow both lurid and prudish at once, and never really thrilling. Still, there’s some legitimate fun to be had, probably even more if I’d had a drink on hand. Middle-aged theatre kid Barbie Castro, who seems contractually obligated to…

  • Black as Night

    Black as Night

    ★★

    There's about twenty minutes of very solid vampire spookiness in Black as Night, but it's all lost in a haze of awkward YA vibes, sloppy ADR, and jumbled allegory. It also bites off waaay more thematic content than its 88 minutes can properly chew. The film plants its horror alongside the history of the slave trade and gestures out to the civil rights movement, Hurricane Katrina, gentrification, and Black Lives Matter, yet never really stops to check if its nonsense…

  • Killing

    Killing

    ★★★★½

    A relatively grounded samurai film is the last thing I'd expect to see from Shinya Tsukamoto, but in some ways, Killing actually might be a return to form. Not since Bullet Ballet has there been a Tsukamoto film so focused on two men drawn to each other through a transcendent vision of violence. Here, in the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, Tsuzuki, a pacifist ronin living with a small group of farmers, encounters Sawamura, a wandering samurai recruiting soldiers…

  • Bingo Hell

    Bingo Hell

    ★★½

    Continuing the Welcome to Blumhouse tradition, Bingo Hell feels like an idea in search of a narrative. What if the American Dream, but evil Bingo? The movie throws in some commentary on gentrification and upward mobility, but the delivery somehow feels both obvious and fuzzy. Worse yet, the narrative totally stalls once the central dynamic is established, with the same set of beats and imagery getting recycled until the climax hits. Casting Richard Brake as the satanic Bingo caller is…

  • Kotoko

    Kotoko

    ★★★★

    Well, it's only October 4th and I've already experienced the scariest thing I'll watch all month. Kotoko follows a mentally ill mother who, inundated with media stories of brutality and death, struggles with her own visions of violence while trying to care for her son. The film is always filtered through her subjectivity, weaving together moments of everyday anxiety (the stir fry scene!) and joy (the singing!) with nightmarish sequences that might be unparalleled, at least within Shinya Tsukamoto's filmography,…

  • House of 1000 Corpses

    House of 1000 Corpses

    ★★★½

    In light of what's come after, there are moments here that feel like Rob Zombie's still working out an aesthetic. Most directly, the grimy Texas Chainsaw stuff only reaches apotheosis in The Devil's Rejects—the slow-motion climax of the (very short-lived) investigation carried out by Deputy Wydell and his cohort coming across like a trial run for the sequel's sublime coda—but I'm also seeing shades of The Lords of Salem, especially in the haunted house/sacrifice beats of the third act. None…