The Food That Defined Film and Television in 2020

Food in 2020 Movies and tv

I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to stuff myself into restaurant booths surrounded by companions, boozy creations, and another kitchen’s signature nibbles. I love to write about how filmmakers utilize food, whether it’s to set a mood, spark a connection, or layer a sense of comfort atop an otherwise deceptively tense standoff. Dinner tables alone set a stage for dysfunction, disillusion, and disappointment as homestyle perfection crumbles around honey-baked hams while nuclear families go, well, nuclear.

Since I’m always a hungry boy, allow me to highlight my favorite instances in 2020 where films found ways to repurpose culinary arts as visual storytelling devices. Whether that’s provoking a character’s traits, or doubling as classist allegories, or instigating internet users into a backlash frenzy. No morsel left uncontextualized, nor plate cleaned of its message. This article is the cherry atop my 2020 wrap-up coverage, so let’s dig into the goods that beat out other notables such as industrial deli slicers in Cadaver and SpaghettiOs Jell-O molds in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy Vs. The Reverend).

Read More »

The 10 Biggest Movie Scares of 2020

It’s been a deceptive 12 months, depending on where you get your information. Some narratives might suggest that 2020 is the year movies vanished, but I’d suggest quite the opposite by my view count. I bested my reigning new-release record in the horror genre alone by roughly thirty titles, noting how streaming and VOD dominated the genre. This made it relatively easy to assemble best-of recap lists since, well, there were so many options. Crazy to admit while theaters still have their lights switched off across the country.

Below, let’s dig into my favorite scares of the year. The freakish, the fiendish, and the forever stuck in my noggin. Horrors never subsided for a second, and what a saving grace their distractions remain. Without further keystrokes, let’s get to the goshdang point.

Read More »

Minoru Kawasaki, the connoisseur behind such Japanese absurdism as The Calamari Wrestler and Executive Koala, is resurrecting Kaiju cinema with his new culinary invention called “Monster Gourmet.” Monster SeaFood Wars dares to dream of a world where skyscraper-tall mollusks can eradicate world hunger, but when unleashed, cause havoc with Toho-inspired dangers. What looks like Godzilla’s B-squad enemies stroll into Tokyo for some demolition redecorations as genetically enlarged heavyweights rowdily rumble. Creature costumes are fantastically detailed, green screen backgrounds comically lackluster, and spirits maintain their zany heights throughout this killer comfort food riot.

I agree with one of the special forces agents when he remarks about how “Monster Meat” gives him the craving for a beer. Monster SeaFood Wars will have the same effect on viewers (both a warning and invitation).

Read More »

I reckon there won’t be many good things that come out of our country’s current pandemic reality. Maybe only one good thing, if we’re honest. Luckily for horror fans, that one good thing is a terrifying Zoom-based horror movie that the Shudder streaming service commissioned and dropped rather rapidly. Rob Savage’s Host has been the talk of Horror Twitter these last few weeks, and with fantastic reason. It’ll undoubtedly be one of my favorite horror films of the year once 2020 finally releases us from its unforgiving grasp.

After the credits rolled, I knew I had to talk to Mr. Savage about his experience. He created an authentic, scream-worthy screen life horror film, but he did so while battling lockdown stipulations. How do you make a movie when no one should be within six feet of each other, let alone trapped inside flats and houses? There are seventeen-thousand reasons why Host shouldn’t work, but it does. Too well. 

Let’s dive into all the challenges that couldn’t stop Rob Savage from delivering above-and-beyond what I’m sure even Shudder expected.

Read More »

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 »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

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 »