The Current Occupant 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 every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

Last year’s fourth of July segment of Into The Dark was a fireworks display of nightmarish nationalism that distorted the “American Dream.” Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Culture Shock remains an anthology highlight, and frankly, not much across our country’s political landscape has changed since its air-date. If anything? Times are direr, primed for even scarier horror exploitations, but Julius Ramsay’s The Current Occupant doesn’t achieve the same commentary or patriotic frights. At times, we’re asked – purposeful or not – to sympathize with the President of the United States. Not something I’m willing to stomach at the moment.

Read More »

In an alternate simulation, my mid-year horror recap might read differently. Earthrealm #2895 avoided COVID-19’s pandemic spread and watched Saint Maud, Antlers, and Candyman (plus others) when they released on their initially slated dates. Theaters never closed down, studios didn’t erase schedules, and their government correctly anticipated a viral spread with preemptive, proactive measures. We, on this unfortunate hunk of space rock, have been robbed of massively anticipated new releases (small potatoes in the grand scheme). Still, there exists an overlooked truth in this cursed year in our home planet’s history: 2020 carries no shortage of worthwhile horror releases.

Oddly enough, the horror genre didn’t skip much of a beat with the closure of nationwide theater chains. I’ve seen 70-plus horror flicks in 2020, only counting those officially released as of this article’s post date, thanks to an always-continual release of genre content that hits video-on-demand platforms (pandemic or not). Countless under-seen gems land on services like Netflix or Shudder, and there are always rentable titles on wide-release VOD platforms. Don’t let the misconception of boarded-up AMC or Cinemark entryways convince you otherwise. Horror cinema continues to thrive as a genre, even while we should all be parking our butts inside. Need proof and time killers? Here are my favorite horror flicks of 2020 so far, with precise instructions on where to find them.

Stay at home, share some screams or howls and keep yourself and others safe so we can confidently reopen with flattened numbers soon enough. Please. I really, badly require a haircut.

Read More »

Into the Dark Good Boy 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 every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

In honor of June’s Pet Appreciation Week, Into The Dark’s latest feature has gone to the dogs (strap in, pun haters). From Tragedy Girls and Patchwork director Tyler MacIntyre comes Good Boy, which you might assume summons a canine werewolf (“werewoof”) based on trailer assessments. Not quite the case, as writers Aaron and Will Eisenberg rework butt-buddy comedy Bad Milo but with an emotional support pupper as the protective creature who kills on behalf of its host. It’s humorous, features plenty of “good boy” shots, and carries a certain animal-lover charm that’s properly twisted by blood-stained fur coats.

Also, Judy Greer isn’t shoved into an ancillary role. For this, we Greer stans adore Good Boy even more.

Read More »

Into the Dark Delivered 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 every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

As Into The Dark’s second season cycles through the calendar anew, it’s becoming apparent which months can withstand multiple cinematic iterations of the same holiday. December? Candy canes and Christmastime cadavers. October? Trick or treat terrorization. May? Chelsea Stardust already dared to question how far a matriarch’s devotion might reach in All That We Destroy, but there are plenty more maternal modifications that can reveal the horrors of motherhood. Emma Tammi’s Delivered, for example, takes a less-graphic frontierswoman’s swing at Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo Inside. More in-line with Tammi’s debut The Wind, which relies on atmosphere over action to sell the inherent fears of reproductive creation.

Read More »

pooka lives trailer

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

While there’s no connective tissue between Into The Dark entries besides holiday jollies, last-last Christmas’ “Pooka” plushie became the program’s unofficial mascot. Blumhouse promotes the deviant plaything’s antics 24/7, including “Naughty Pooka’s” own Twitter profile, so its April resurrection comes with minimal surprise. Alejandro BruguésPooka Lives is part deux in an ongoing saga, were creepypasta culture (retitled “eeriepasta”) rebirths the devil-toy in supernatural form. Think Slender-Man, think Mercy Black, except replace gangly businessmen or scarecrow fables with a pot-bellied, huggable murderer who takes a more freakish rabbit form. 

Easter’s celebration of Jesus’ “he is risen!” miracle brings warped religion and forum-chat cultism to Hulu, given how Pooka Lives certainly isn’t satirizing Tax Day or any other monthly event-based sensations.

Read More »

Drunk Bus Review

(The SXSW Film Festival may have been cancelled, but our coverage will go on with reviews of films and TV shows made available to our critics.)

John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke’s Drunk Bus is an anti-road-trip comedy with plenty of mileage. Where Seann William Scott and DJ Qualls once learned salacious lessons while crossing state borders, this is a story about retracing the same college-town loop day after month after year. Steering the wheel but electing to venture nowhere. Yes, metaphors run heavy in this public transit dramedy about dulling innermost pains with “safe” routines – but that doesn’t make (supposed) “real 2006 shit” any less resonant. Annoying dispatch operators, bean burrito firing squads and all.

Read More »

She Dies Tomorrow Review

(The SXSW Film Festival may have been cancelled, but our coverage will go on with reviews of films and TV shows made available to our critics.)

When writer and director Amy Seimetz conceptualized She Dies Tomorrow, I doubt anyone channeled Coronavirus premonitions – and yet, current events prevail. Life imitating art, art imitating life as the prophecies foretell. Her unconventional outbreak thriller absorbs urgency amidst 2020’s ongoing worldwide pandemic, spotlighting an all-too-relevant viral subplot. No, don’t expect some indie rehash of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion. Instead, bear the weight of humanity’s numbing disease as Seimetz challenges our mortal value by weaponizing its historical antithesis: death. Freeing, paralyzing, and most of all, inescapable.

Read More »

Into the Dark Crawlers 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 every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

This is an unpopular opinion, but Blumhouse and Hulu’s Into The Dark series reached one of its pinnacles last March with Treehouse. The maddened “Ides” unleashed pissed-off brujas in an attack against toxic masculinity, which is thematically relevant once again but hardly a tonal comparison point. Brandon Zuck’s Crawlers attempts an extraterrestrial doppelganger riff that takes place during a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl, hopeful to rattle collegiate gender horrors. Very reminiscent of Dennis Iliadis’ +1 (Plus One) in terms of using the guise of substance fogginess to cover abnormal occurrences, if a bit more dimwitted and comparable to another anemic SYFY special.

Where Uncanny Annie found success in emphasizing teen-gauged sleepover screams, Crawlers struggles to be anything more than mediocre meteorite-bred panic. Not exactly something worth toasting.

Read More »

Disappearance at Clifton Hill Clip

Albert Shin’s Disappearance At Clifton Hill is a curious Canadian case of kidnapping, repressed memories, and the maddening effects of Niagra Falls. IFC Midnight nabbed distribution rights after positive reactions came out of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, praising the film’s nu-noir aesthetic. I’ve yet to watch it myself, but an earlier trailer paints an underbelly small-town vibe as one woman attempts to make sense of questions from her childhood. The answers, I can only assume, are neither easy to suss out or particularly reassuring given the tragic nature of her haunting recollections.

Today on /Film, we have an exclusive clip from Shin’s film, which features David Cronenberg in a rare spot acting in front of the camera. Check out the scene below.

Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Blood on Her Name Review

Matthew Pope’s Blood On Her Name is a blue-collar revenge thriller with one helluva hard nose compared to other glamorized action spectacles where consequences don’t matter. It’s homestyle, nasty survival storytelling rooted with family at its core and despair weighing heavy on the viewer’s chest. Jeremy Saulnier comparisons are apt, even if the brutality isn’t as gruesome. I was lucky enough to catch the film at last year’s Fantasia International Film Festival where Pope’s title played to much acclaim, including my full review that praises everything from the film’s unwashable grime to Bethany Anne Lind’s pain-stricken performance.

Today on /Film, we have an exclusive clip that gives you a taste of the kind of cyclical backwoods gut-punchery that awaits Lind’s independent mother.

Read More »