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  • Pure

    Pure

    ★★★★

    #52FilmsByWomen 2019 pt. 52.

    Okay so we kind of all get that Jason Blum is trying to make up for all the heat he caught a year or so ago for saying women don't want to make horror movies by producing a lot of stuff like this. It's a transparent move but fuck it, more cool unsubtle feisty feminist shit can't be a bad thing. Why are the girls afraid of Lilith at first? Well, supernatural things are frightening I…

  • Polaroid

    Polaroid

    ★★★

    I think that I shall never not love dumb teen horror, and by the standards of the genre while this isn't a knockout like Unfriended, it's got a lot going for it like the snowy wintry locale, a visit with David Lynch favorite Grace Zabriskie, the The Ring ploy whereby the monster tricks the protagonists into helping it, and the final showdown in the darkened high school, origin of the evil. A perfectly respectable teen haunted object movie, but not enough to make you forget the Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark and Twilight Zone (!) episodes with this very same premise.

    Cf. Wish Upon

  • The Wind

    The Wind

    ★★★½

    #52FilmsByWomen 2019 pt. 51.

    The genre of the prairie western, and the women therein, are both subjugated by maleness. As "elevated horror" with a period setting, a modest budget, an allegorical demonic presence and a story of women surviving under harrowing conditions, this reminds me of the more successful Under the Shadow from a few years ago. Where that film kept its storytelling straightforward, this one tries to get clever, to its detriment.
    Sometimes elliptical and haunting, sometimes just structurally…

  • A Nasty Piece of Work

    A Nasty Piece of Work

    ★★★½

    Somebody once observed that even though the way we celebrate Christmas is grossly commercial, almost every Christmas story/movie is anticapitalist or at least anticonsumerist. This gets off to a great start with its occasionally subtle but mostly sledgehammery class struggle narrative, but I'm not sure the filmmakers knew how much they were hamstringing themselves with that ending, which undercuts the message in a "masters tools can't dismantle the master's house" way and not a "lamentably this is what we must…

  • L.A. Zombie

    L.A. Zombie

    ★★

    #52LGBTQFilms 2019 pt. 49.

    (Hardcore version watched)
    It probably works better as porn than as art film, though some of the SOV gritty LA vibes are compelling. I also like the protagonist's shifting appearance (our culture views gay men as alien and their desires as unnatural) but other stuff just seems weird for weird's sake and the visuals aren't interesting enough for a 100 minute narrative. The first time you see an erect penis inserted into a lethal wound, it's…

  • Anna and the Apocalypse

    Anna and the Apocalypse

    ★★½

    Not for me.
    I appreciate the ambition but I don't really like musicals to begin with, and the songs here are very bland teen pop. It achieves nothing I haven't seen in a hundred other zomcoms and it rips off Shawn of the Dead at every opportunity. So if you take away the musical gimmick (wack) and the Christmas gimmick (underutilized), you get a medium crappy basic ass zomcom with a basic ass leading lady.
    What's so great about Anna?…

  • Candy Corn

    Candy Corn

    ★★

    It's another one of those horrorcon pandering seasonal cheapos where Tony Todd and P.J. Soles are the top-billed stars even though they barely have any lines (why cast these familiar faces and then give them nothing to do?) No Halloween carnival-set horror movie with slasher flavoring has any right to be this damn boring. What happened in this movie? Was there a story? I legit struggle to remember, I just know the Mark Borchardt lookalike loser barfly with lines like…

  • Holiday Rush

    Holiday Rush

    ★★★

    #52FilmsByPOC 2019 pt. 49.

    When a Netflix original Christmas romcom has a more responsible and nuanced portrayal of black masculinity and grief than critical darling and probable Oscar nominee Waves...

    Cf. Brown Sugar

  • The Head Hunter

    The Head Hunter

    ★★★★

    I love medieval horror, I love monsters, I love sword & sorcery when it's done right, and I love horror movies that utilize the natural world for atmosphere, so this one was an easy sell for me. At times it does feel like (a) just a damn tease with all but one of the monster battles happening offscreen, and (b) a short padded to (barely) feature length. But at 70 minutes, most of which is filled with verdant and understated worldbuilding, there's only so much I can complain about.

    Cf. Escape

  • The Night Sitter

    The Night Sitter

    ★★½

    One of the things 2011's underappreciated Fright Night remake smartly predicted was the 21st century Van Helsing would be the cheesy cable TV paranormal investigator, and this movie's cringey take on that character is probably its best part, not coincidentally the only part that isn't beholden to a bygone era. Cuz this is The Babysitter meets Better Watch Out, and when your throwback movie can be described as a mashup of two other, better throwback movies, the snake has officially…

  • Girl on the Third Floor

    Girl on the Third Floor

    ★★★

    My WWE-illiterate ass was like "why does this disgraced businessman look and talk like a professional wrestler?" then it turned out he was a professional wrestler.

    He does do a pretty good job as a major asshole clinging to this house renovation as his midlife-crisis relief, but I had the same problem as with that Bryan Cranston movie from a few years back where he hides in the garage and spies on his family: I don't care if he's an…

  • Piercing

    Piercing

    ★★★

    If you're looking for Eyes of My Mother part 2 you'll be disappointed, and if you have a low tolerance for shamefully purloined giallo soundtrack music, you'll be disappointed too. This starts out dull and derivative, but it goes some interesting places in the final act. I was checked out by the time it got interesting and it didn't fully win me back, but there are some decent ideas and cool body horror visuals, and I'll watch Mia Wasikowska in anything. It never quite finds its justification for sampling that music though, and that continues to bug me.

    Cf. Hard Candy