If “The Third Day” (Mondays, HBO) was an open-ended series, I’d bow out after this first episode, cuz ain’t nobody got time fo’ a “Lost”-ian wait for answers. But since it’s a six-hour miniseries (rather than six seasons) there’s enough here to keep me coming back. The decidedly weird first hour is more good-weird than bad-weird. It’s not as creepy as I’d prefer, but it is mysterious, and an appealingly weathered, receding-hairlined Jude Law makes a fine lead as Sam.
John Carpenter has built up enough of an oeuvre that everyone has their own pick for his elite work, but for me it’s “The Thing” (1982) in a landslide. I appreciate “Halloween’s” status as a slasher trope codifier, and “Escape from New York’s” guerrilla grit, but “The Thing” is the director’s most fully formed masterpiece. It’s mentioned a lot for its elite practical creature effects and its portrayal of paranoia within a small group, and it has made must-watch lists during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to its story of a mysterious infection. But what most defines the film for me are its sense of place and sense of dread.
With all the depressing news in the world lately, it’d be nice to get a happy new TV show to watch. So on Sunday, TNT launched the new season of – cue record scratch – “The Alienist.” While this is perhaps not the type of series we need right now, there’s no denying that in its second season — subtitled “Angel of Darkness” and running in two-hour blocks over four Sundays — it remains one of the best-looking shows on TV.
The “Conjuring” Universe is now seven films strong – with an eighth (“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”) on the way in September. The two main “Conjuring” entries and the “Annabelle” trilogy comprise five of the films. That leaves the two oddballs, which I’ll review here: “The Nun” (2018) and “The Curse of La Llorona” (2019).
I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer” (2006) goes low-budget, low-talent and straight-to-video to wrap up the trilogy. Since it came out eight years after the second entry, I didn’t even notice this film’s existence at the time. When I noticed it years later, some curiosity percolated at the back of my mind about how the franchise continued after the first two films, both of which I liked.
Director Danny Cannon and writer Trey Callaway pump up the humor and simple slasher pleasures in the sequel to 1997’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” which popularized straight-down-the-middle slashers (as opposed to winking examples like “Scream”) for a new generation. Hey, you have to have a sense of humor when your movie is called “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” (1998).
Scream” (1996) introduced a new era of slasher films by being brazenly self-referential, but also by having better production values and acting than the previous era defined by the “Halloweens,” “Friday the 13ths” and “Elm Streets.” The second major entry of this new era — “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997), likewise written by Kevin Williamson – doesn’t have many insider nods, but it keeps the quality high.
Usually when a director drops his calling card, he has a few minor credits on his IMDB resume before that. But Andrew Patterson’s resume is empty other than “The Vast of Night” (Amazon Prime); the same goes for writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger. The film itself shows few signs of being helmed by first-timers, and not only in the sense of professionalism, but more importantly in its original sense of style.
Sleepaway Camp” (1983) is one of the most prominent lakeside summer camp slasher flicks in the wake of “Friday the 13th” (1980), and refreshingly its tone is nothing like “Friday the 13th.” If it were made today, maybe by Robert Rodriguez teaming up with David Robert Mitchell, we’d say it’s a masterful homage/parody to the style of the time. Writer-director Robert Hiltzik’s film is often technically bad, sometimes aimless, and inexplicably engrossing.
Leigh Whannell was a writer before he was a director, but “The Invisible Man” shows off his directorial skills more than his screenplay-penning talent. This third entry in what was originally intended to be a “Dark Universe” but is now just standalone films (“Dracula Untold” and 2017’s “The Mummy” were the first two) has the requisite moments of Cecelia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) being terrified of an invisible man in the room with her. That’s timeless monster-movie stuff.