(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: Even though adulthood’s 24-7-hustle has effectively erased any existence of a “summer vacation,” early September still reminds of exactly that. Notebook restocking, wardrobe upgrades, kissing all-day playtime goodbye – how could this week’s “Now Scream This” be about anything else? Chris and I curated some “Back To School” watches that play around with the phrase in creative and chaotic ways. Maybe by taking place in a school, maybe because a serial killer becomes the teacher – thematic developments of this nature. If a student gifts his professor an apple in any of these movies, it’s probably laced with acid and results in an over-the-top-gory death sequence. Still not as horrific as Saturday detention and parent teacher conferences, of course. 

Chris: There’s nothing more terrifying than returning to school. I know some people out there cherished their school experience. Some look back at high school (and college) as a fond, carefree time of parties and fun and zero responsibilities. I, however, look at high school as a fucking nightmare. The school experience is more horrifying than any horror movie can offer (although I hear Eighth Grade comes pretty close), but we’ll have to make due with these films instead. So grab your pencils, grab your books, and don’t be late for class.


Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: I start with Patrick Brice’s Creep because Mark Duplass’ Josef/Peachfuzz character teaches us the methods of a madman. We are pupils, sitting safely on our sofas while Brice’s videographer Aaron finds himself face-to-face with a serial slasher. Duplass’ actions as an emotionally-open, methodical murderer unsettle without restraint, since Josef’s numerous outreaches for “friendship” could (*should*) be interpreted as threats or deranged musings. As a “found footage” film, Creep becomes an earnest Craigslist nightmare about answering the most absurd of calls with naivety and abandon. As a psychological analysis of someone who’d be so compelled to wear a wolf mask, torment through scares, and attempt rationale in the name of bloodlust, Creep succeeds in generating off-kilter relationship tension with psycho killer intrigue. A “slasher” movie boiled down to its cognitive core, so very unhinged thanks to Duplass’ immersion, smile, and never-let-die insanity.

Chris: Wow, Matt has really thrown me for a loop this week. This is the only film on his list I’ve seen, and thus the only one I can comment on with some authority. Creep is great! It’s a slow-burn, endlessly unsettling horror-comedy that builds and builds into something genuinely shocking. And the sequel ain’t half bad, either.

All Cheerleaders Die

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: To quote myself (just accept me for who I am): “All Cheerleaders Die mixes a dash of Mean Girls, a pinch of Bring It On, and a healthy helping of witchy horror to conjure one fun-filled dark comedy.” Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson’s high school chiller leans heavily into stereotypical plastic-popular fashion – meathead football players, hot-and-sassy squad girls – so know that going in. In an earlier iteration McKee and Sivertson worked on, their female sorceresses were zombies who arose to seek vengeance on their boyfriends. This version swaps undead motivations for magic gems, spells, and “spooky” midnight influences with a premium on genre playfulness. We’re able to enjoy top-to-bottom lunchroom hierarchy satire and CGI-dotted but still nasty effects without losing a midway Jennifer’s Body lite feel. Works for me, so might one say I’ve been enchanted by its mystical siren’s song?

Chris: Oh no, those poor cheerleaders. They all die? I feel terrible. But seriously, folks: I do love me some Lucky McKee, so I should probably just sit down and watch this.

Dude Bro Massacre III

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Was this week’s theme selection primarily motivated by my desire to write about Dude Bro Party Massacre III? Absolutely (Chris called me out in a matter of seconds). What’s not to love about a respectful low-budget slasher homage sticky from spilled cheap beer and so very bro-forward with fraternal hazing? Nothing is to be taken serious during Motherface’s killing spree including dudetastic homoerotic undertones, which works wonders for a specific type of over-the-top crowd. Most assertively not for everyone, that I know. A far greater comedy versus scream-a-minute horror show from the team behind 5 Second Films featuring Larry King, Patton Oswalt, Greg Sestero, Nina Hartley, and Andrew W.K. – because the universe’s party master knows a genre fiesta when he sees one. Practical schlock with *plenty* of blood, bro-on-bro overacting, and genre ribbing that takes itself serious enough while still retaining the right to embrace dim-bulb moronics. Who needs a Part I or Part II when you can cut right to the threequel Greek communities deserve?

Chris: Matt has been looking for an excuse to write about this movie ever since we started this column. Now, he has it. I hope you’re happy, Matt.

The Loved Ones

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Matt: In any conversation highlighting directors who’ve made far fewer movies than we deserve, genre knockout Sean Byrne should be front-and-center. His 2009 feature debut, The Loved Ones, is quintessential prom night horror. Soup-to-nuts a maniacal kidnapping thriller tinged with icky father/daughter undertones and monstrous surprises in the form of many psychological outbursts (maybe hidden goodies, too). Robin McLeavy’s performance as Lola” earns her “Princess” nickname through pouty “good girl” eyes, control over John Brumpton’s “Daddy,” and hissy-fits when not getting her way – all while wielding power tools. Xavier Samuel’s poor victim Brent forced to “participate” in Lola’s dreamy school dance (from the comfort home). It’s next-level fucked up beyond typical high school genre boundaries, propelled by performances as unflinching as they are warped teenage mindsets hyper-realized through bloodsoaked brutality. Torture, injections, pits of misery – as if high school wasn’t enough of an emotional hellscape?

Chris: I’ve heard nothing but good things about this, but I’ve avoid seeing it because every bit of material related to the film makes it look like “torture porn”, a sub-genre I’d like to see go away forever. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this really is as good as everyone says it is.

Tragedy Girls

Now Streaming on Hulu

Matt: Tyler MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls is so many things. A whip-smart slasher reinvention that goes Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon while also dashing in some Scream aka legitimate subgenre satire. An Instagram, social-media-obsession commentary that disgustingly nails how “Likes” and “Shares” are driving society’s downward moral spiral. A gory, hilarious horror comedy about two high school students training to become serial killing legends while living their Stepford-suburban lives with unassuming innocence. Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp spew kitschy pop-culture references faster than Sonic The Hedgehog can speed through zones, but immediately establish a cult-beloved duo who could slice their way through sequel after sequel if the same quality is maintained. “Like, retweet and follow!” Once an online calling card, now a collection words that send a shiver down my spine given Tragedy Girls’ mirroring of YouTube/Twitch/view-driven “celebrities.”

Chris:  But when will there be Tragedy Boys?!

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