‘He’s Out There’ is a decently scary lake-cabin stalker thriller, but not a unique one (Movie review)

S

imilar to the two “Strangers” films, “He’s Out There” (2018, now on Netflix) strips the horror genre down to basics and tells a scary story of people in random peril at a remote cabin. It plays the requisite horror notes well, includes one moment that literally made me flinch, and offers a touch of mystery to keep a viewer wondering about the villain’s motivations. And while I wasn’t bored by the film, I knew I had Yvonne Strahovski to look at if the plot ceased to hold my interest.

Continue reading “‘He’s Out There’ is a decently scary lake-cabin stalker thriller, but not a unique one (Movie review)”

Throwback Thursday: Appleby, Embry star in heavy-metal horror thriller ‘The Devil’s Candy’ (2015) (Movie review)

D

on’t put on “The Devil’s Candy” (2015, Netflix) if you want something light. But if you’re in the mood for a stylish, heavy-metalized thriller, this is your film. I checked it out because it’s a Shiri Appleby movie I hadn’t seen, and it also features her fellow 1990s teen star Ethan Embry. They play Astrid and Jesse Hellman, who — along with daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco) – comprise a family that moves into a big but affordable country home outside of town.

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Appleby, Embry star in heavy-metal horror thriller ‘The Devil’s Candy’ (2015) (Movie review)”

The apocalypse comes again in ‘Bird Box,’ and the lesson this time is ‘Don’t look!’ (Movie review)

B

ird Box” (Netflix) is the latest in the trend of apocalyptic thrillers where the end times arrive in a bizarre and sketchily explained fashion, following “It Comes at Night,” “A Quiet Place” and the “Cloverfield” trilogy. It’s easy to call this the visual answer to the audio-based “A Quiet Place.” There, creatures hunt by their sense of hearing; here, the malevolent force invades people’s brains through their visual cortex. It’s the childlike notion of hiding under the covers made into a motion picture: If you can’t see the monster, you’re fine.

Continue reading “The apocalypse comes again in ‘Bird Box,’ and the lesson this time is ‘Don’t look!’ (Movie review)”

John’s top 10 movies of 2018

T

he dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.

Continue reading “John’s top 10 movies of 2018”

Wild concept, Brewer’s daring performance make ‘Cam’ a surprisingly decent parable (Movie review)

A

 lot of movies could benefit from a viewer going in with no knowledge of what they’re about to see, but in the age of previews giving away everything, it’s hard to find an experience like that. Streaming services might be bringing it back though: A synopsis and a still image look intriguing, the service recommends it to you based on your viewing habits, it gets good ratings from others … so maybe you’ll give it a shot. Netflix’s “Cam” benefits from the Mystery Mine Ride approach.

Continue reading “Wild concept, Brewer’s daring performance make ‘Cam’ a surprisingly decent parable (Movie review)”

All 6 of Mike Flanagan’s horror films, ranked (Movie commentary)

I

 was so impressed with “The Haunting of Hill House” that I immediately checked out writer-director Mike Flanagan’s previous horror work, which is easy to do in these days of streaming services. Although his IMDB goes back to the turn of the century with student films, Flanagan didn’t enter the mainstream until this decade, when he directed six horror (or horror-adjacent) films. All are worth checking out to see the progression of an emerging genre talent. It’s interesting to look at rankings of Flanagan’s films on the web and see that there’s nowhere near a consensus on the order, but here are my personal rankings:

Continue reading “All 6 of Mike Flanagan’s horror films, ranked (Movie commentary)”

11 bizarre oddities in the ‘Halloween’ saga (Movie commentary)

T

he “Halloween” saga is infamous for its oddities and mistakes and its tendency to set aside established plot threads. Some of them are well-known, even by casual observers: the fact that “Halloween III” isn’t a Michael Myers film, the way “Halloween 5” reimagines the ending of “Halloween 4” to avoid having a child as a killer, and the three relaunches of the saga in “Halloween H20,” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and the new “Halloween,” which hit theaters earlier this month.

Continue reading “11 bizarre oddities in the ‘Halloween’ saga (Movie commentary)”

An outsider’s take on the ‘Halloween’ saga: Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween II’ (2009) (Movie review)

A

lthough I’ve seen some of the “Halloween” films, I haven’t seen them recently enough to remember them. So this watch/rewatch of the saga marks my first time thinking about them as a movie reviewer. Armed with categories suggested by “Halloween” superfan Michael (Olinger, not Myers), here’s my review of the 10th entry, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” (2009).

Continue reading “An outsider’s take on the ‘Halloween’ saga: Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween II’ (2009) (Movie review)”

Artistic, engrossing horror film ‘Hereditary’ raises a lot of questions … in a good way (Movie review)

T

he fact that “Hereditary” blends family drama with horror elements isn’t original, but there’s something about the balance or the vibe that makes it feel that way. For a good chunk of its two hours, writer-director Ari Aster’s breakthrough film – now available on streaming and home video – is a dark exploration of a dysfunctional family. But there are clues here and there that make a viewer feel on edge, and by the end “Hereditary” is not only a horror film, but a haunting one.

Continue reading “Artistic, engrossing horror film ‘Hereditary’ raises a lot of questions … in a good way (Movie review)”