Candy Corn trailer

Is there any treat more synonymous with Halloween than tri-colored candy corn? Filmmaker Josh Hasty (In Hell Everybody Loves Popcorn) hopes not, given how his newest movie names itself after the waxy, sugary kernels. His upcoming feature Candy Corn looks cobbled from all of October’s witchy, malevolent, pumpkin-spiced accents, as a small town’s “freaks” take their revenge around All Hallow’s Eve. Distribution company Dread was quick to acquire this holiday tale of ghouls and graveyard delights, adding Hasty’s undead brand of revenge to their ever-growing catalog.

With summer coming to a close and trees soon embracing autumn colorization, we have the first Candy Corn trailer for all you hungry horror fans out there.
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Into the Dark School Spirit Review

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

After scoring exemplary marks with last month’s Culture Shock “episode,” Into The Dark returns to its less memorable form in School Spirit. Mike Gan’s tribute to I Know What You Did Last Summer era high school slashers may earn a passing grade by certain standards, but brings nothing new to an outdated subgenre conversation. Reformat existing horror architectures all you want, but there’s not much “spirit” within rudimentary “101 Level” storytelling horror fans have studied ad nauseam. A little Breakfast Club, a lotta Scream, but Blumhouse’s deadly detention sentence capitalizes not on a pirate killer far less interesting than a sinister Act III suggests.

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Harpoon Review

If you’re a cynical blackhearted comedy fan, Rob Grant’s Harpoon is your “Catch Of The Day.” At an airtight seventy minutes and change, this dangerously dysfunctional yachting expedition is meaner than your least favorite aunt after three too many glasses of wine. Exquisitely paced to surface tensions early, often, and volcanically. Brett Gelman’s blank-filler narration humorously keys viewers in on the necessary details, never bothering with information to be considered non-essential. Pointed like a sharpened spear tipped with toxic machoisms – just add water, weapons, and stranded isolation where tempers are inescapable.

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Blood on Her Name Review

Matthew Pope’s Blood On Her Name ranks among Americana thrillers such as Blue Ruin, I Don’t Belong In This World Anymore, Small Crimes, and other tobacco-stained justice flicks. A modest look into how one decision can change your life forever; sins paid in flesh and blood. Characters all blend into a complicated existence between sympathy and wrongdoing, as Pope holds complication over easily definable boundaries between “good” and “evil.” In a time when online mob justice demands black-and-white rulings on human affairs, Blood On Her Name reminds us of the sprawling grey area that defines our experience. Tension strung tight enough to slice through a crowd like the opening scene in Ghost Ship.

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Sator Review

Those of you cast under Hagazussa’s spell and blown away by The Wind, prepare yourselves for Jordan Graham’s Sator. Think Krisha meets The Blair Witch with some “gang-gang supernatural cultishness” stirred in. Graham writes, edits, gaffs, scores, produces – he does everything short of acting, no exaggeration. When you nurture artistry so personal, it’s hard to let control go. As Netflix Originals have proven, sometimes boundless auteurism grants filmmakers too much power. Creators cannot separate themselves from their art, killing no darlings, but that’s not an issue here. Slow as sap dripping from a maple tap, maximum fuck-you-up-edness as only embittered family dysfunction can permit.

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Critters Attack

Bobby Miller’s Critters Attack! honors its meager franchise traditions, and your interpretation of that statement depends on your level of adoration of low-budget puppeteering. My reaction to the Crites’ latest feeding frenzy is similar to my reaction to Phantasm: Ravager: it has minuscule funding, blatant attempts at nostalgia recreation, and purposeful “so bad it’s good” vibes which prove you cannot force cult acclaim.

Then again, as with Ravager, 2019’s fuzzball fury will give Critters guardians precisely what they adore. New fanbase breeds won’t start championing this Gremlins knockoff, but don’t be surprised when familiarized audiences leave satisfied. Read More »

DreadOut review

For comparison’s sake, the DreadOut movie is like a stealth Fatal Frame adaptation given how Indonesia’s survival horror video game, which gives the film its title, is often likened to Japan’s popular ghosts-on-camera platformer. Kimo Stamboel, half of the infamous filmmaking “Mo Brothers” duo, proves that not all video game adaptations are buggy disasters.

In particular, DreadOut stands proud with Resident Evil and Silent Hill as adaptations programmed right (horror movies are just better, y’all). Stamboel draws not only from his Macabre brother Timo Tjahjanto, referencing the gore in May The Devil Take You, but this film possesses Sam Raimi vibes à la Evil Dead and Army Of Darkness. (Not to downplay how much DreadOut lends itself to video game and viral media culture.)

Oh, and best of all? The movie is a freaky and frantic blast of immersive horror. Read More »

Sadako Review

Ringu director Hideo Nakata returns from whence he came with Sadako, another J-Horror offshoot inspired by Kôji Suzuki’s malevolent novels. Audiences more familiar with Gore Verbinski’s The Ring remake should understand this foreign import favors storytelling over paralyzing scares – or, at least attempts to highlight scripted intrigue. That’s not to say previous Ringu-adjacent titles care only about jumps, but Sadako barely musters enough fear to meet Shudder’s Sadako vs. Kayako crossover. Which, if you’ve seen the heavyweight rumble, isn’t a particularly high bar to vault over.

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Culture Shock Review

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

Cue the celebratory fireworks and break out grandma’s potato salad recipe, because Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Culture Shock takes advantage of Into The Dark’s full conceptual potential. Her July 4th treatment has been earning praise from critics and festival audiences as the franchise’s most accomplished title to date, which it certainly is. Guerrero’s American-bred nightmare vaults over March’s Treehouse as my favorite Into The Dark tale yet, brimming with patriotic anxiety and tragic relevance. Life inspires art in an explosive display of hatred under the guise of nationalism, drawing inspiration from the most obvious places: our backyards. 

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Horror Movies Set During the Day

Horror architectures and pitch darkness are not inseparably intertwined. It’s a common misconception purported by spooky cinema itself. Don’t get me wrong – James Wan’s signature manipulation of outreaching shadows showcases why bumps in the night scare with ease (one of many examples). But what about the alternative? Thrill me in the sunlight, and you’ve conquered one of the hardest, most unforgiving subgenres. What I, so professionally, dub “Sunny Scary.”

With Ari Aster’s Midsommar primed to issue merciless dread while sunbeams celebrate pastels and blossoming springtime bulbs, I’m reminded of films that have accomplished similar feats. The original version of The Wicker Man, without hesitation, comes to mind as Summerisle‘s Celtic rituals unfold during off-kilter May Day festivities. Sergeant Howie’s investigation becomes more and more unsettling during inappropriate May Pole teachings or blatant missing child coverups. As “killer doll” movies prey upon innocence exploited, so do films that shatter daylight reprises via sacrificial damnation. One man’s discovery of unspeakable truths played out in plain sight, framed and illuminated with the festive enchantment of something much happier (without flaming effigial crosshatches).

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