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  • Parasite

    Parasite

    ★★★

    This is like someone interrupting a really good game of hide and seek with murder.

  • Bones

    Bones

    ★★★

    This would be easy to see as some throwaway relic were it not for Ernest Dickerson’s clear affection for the horror genre and Pam Grier’s blaxploitation roots. There are parts of this where it looks like her character from Foxy Brown has been superimposed into a Dario Argento film. None of it fully coheres, and it ultimately plays a little too silly for my tastes, and yet there are moments of inspired lunacy.

  • Slumber Party Massacre II

    Slumber Party Massacre II

    ★★★★

    Like all slasher films this one may be seen as an enumeration of death scenes, all of which play something like this: one of the title slumber party participants is chased around a nondescript house in some bland subdivision by a rock star who’s apparently more known than you’d think. He’s clad entirely in leather, his hair slicked in a frothing wave of hair, his eyes and mouth all wide open like a trio of hungry sharks. Also he’s holding…

  • Cube

    Cube

    ★★★

    Both conceptually novel and overlong in the tradition of all elongated Twilight Zone episodes.

  • Centipede Horror

    Centipede Horror

    ★★½

    One of the novelties of the AGFA DCP scan of this was the subtitles, which were endearingly strewn in typos and encompassed seemingly all of the film’s dialogue. Which is curious considering subtitling is so often an abbreviation of what’s heard. So the result here was a bunch of obscure contractions, like “bedroom’re,” and a near constant reading experience until you lose your place and prioritize the images, which include hundreds if not thousands of actual centipedes, anthropomorphized chicken corpses, and dueling warlocks (in a scene pretty similar to the climax in Big Trouble in Little China).

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

    A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge

    ★★★

    In considering this film’s critical reevaluation (and what that aforelinked source as well as Wikipedia ascertain is its status as a cult classic) I think its context should be clarified some. It’s a slasher film, a sub-genre with little variation apart from the appearance of the slasher killer, and a franchise sequel, which only accentuates the first point. It’s the sort of movie that seems really familiar even if you haven’t seen it or any of its franchise brethren.

    Nightmare…

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    ★★★½

    The exemplar of the Nightmare series if only because Craven understands that these films are best when Freddy is more a symbolic threat than a character with dialogue. Note how little he speaks in comparison to the later films, which is a relief because his variety brand Rodney Dangerfield schtick is insufferable. As a sort of contemporary rendition of the grim reaper Freddy is never as potent or foreboding as he is in this film, leading the array of morally suspect teens to wildly imaginative deaths.

  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

    ★★

    There are few properties that are to me as critically impervious as the Alvin Schwartz anthology on which this is based, which so captivated me as a kid that I can discretely recall many of the passages that alarmed me many years ago. And this is to say nothing of the illustrations, many of which look like they were done hastily, as though the artist was crudely rendering the image of the thing haunting him as he was at that…

  • Habit

    Habit

    ★★★★

    One of my biggest complaints about the movies is when characters with entry-level jobs have incredible apartments. As a counter to this consider Sam’s home in this film. His bedroom is so cramped that the mattress is abutted against three of the walls. The sink is never clean. His view is of another building. When he cooks something you can almost smell it. There are numerous other examples I could list of the film’s verisimilitude, but the point here is…

  • Midsommar

    Midsommar

    ★½

    Director’s Cut — Hugely portentous movie about impossibly callous boyfriends and graduate students who clearly haven’t done enough research.

  • Ad Astra

    Ad Astra

    ★★★

    A ruminative space movie predicated upon whether Tommy Lee Jones and Brad Pitt look similar enough to play father and son. I mean, there was a laser gun battle happening at the same time as a lunar rover chase that was to me more believable than the possibility that Mr. Lee Jones and Mr. Pitt are relatives.

    At least, in order to fully appreciate the film for its emotive as opposed to cosmetic aspects one must appreciate how Mr. Pitt…

  • Unbelievable

    Unbelievable

    ★★★½

    A seemingly very accurate dramatization of a story so rife in disbelief and revelation you’d be hard pressed to come up with any part of it that would be better dramatized. But anyhow here we are. As an adaptation its strengths are twofold: one, in popularizing an important story about abuse and how it was combatted and can be addressed in the future; and two, in the parts that benefit from visualization, like Detective Karen Duvall, one of the two…