REVIEW: Midnight Mass (2021 – TV Series)

Hamish Linklater as Father Paul Hill in MIDNIGHT MASS — Photo: Netflix.

Series Created & Directed by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House; Doctor Sleep) — Available on Netflix.

At this point, I feel like Mike Flanagan is becoming a master of horror. I don’t think it happened over night, though. I think his output was fairly consistent in the beginning, but the latest works in his oeuvre are just outstanding. While I think Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Hush were all right, I think Gerald’s Game, Doctor Sleep, and his Netflix shows (The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor) are all great must-watch horror films or shows. I think he has this ability to find beauty in even some of his more frightening works, and that is also true of his latest horror series, Midnight Mass, which I think is pretty much on par with the truly excellent Hill House.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Midnight Mass (2021 – TV Series)”

REVIEW: Candyman (2021)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Anthony McCoy in Nia DaCosta’s CANDYMAN (2021) — Photo: Universal Pictures.

Directed by Nia DaCosta — Screenplay by Nia DaCosta, Win Rosenfeld, & Jordan Peele (Get Out; Us).

Horror remakes, reimaginings, or sequels decades after a popular antagonist’s inception are inevitable. This movie studio trend was especially prevalent in the 2010s, when it was emphasized just how profitable decent-to-good horror films can be. One of the more stylized attempts was Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake, while one of the more disappointing attempts was Kölsch & Widmyer’s Pet Sematary remake. Horror remakes are a dime a dozen these days, but the current horror movie trend is the legacyquel — a portmanteau of legacy and sequel — which is a continuation of a previous film but one that takes place a long time after the events of the original film and often with entirely new characters. Another trend is that of ignoring some films in the franchise, for the purpose of taking the franchise in another direction. Such is the case with a legacyquel like David Gordon Green’s Halloween. Another legacyquel that ignores certain chapters in its own cinematic mythology, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman, which really ought to have a different title for simplicity’s sake, follows many horror movie trends, but perhaps most notably those kickstarted by her producer and co-writer Jordan Peele.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Candyman (2021)”

REVIEW: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren in Michael Chaves’ THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Directed by Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) — Screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick.

Cinematic universes and film series with numerous spin-offs — in the vein of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — are all the rage these days. The primary example of this in the horror genre is the Conjuring film-universe, which, at this point in time, consists of eight films. This horror film cinematic universe was essentially launched by James Wan, who is probably one of the most influential horror filmmakers of the last ten years, and his films in the series — The Conjuring I and II — are, frankly, the best and most memorable films in the entire film series. For that reason, I was very nervous when I heard that he would step away from the franchise and let Michael Chaves, who directed The Curse of La Llorona (which I really did not like), continue, or potentially finish, the titular series of films in the Conjuring film-universe. After having now seen the third main-line Conjuring-film, I can say that even though it is nowhere near as good as Wan’s films, Chaves’ second film in this film universe is admittedly significantly better than his previous film.

Continue reading “REVIEW: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)”

REVIEW: The New Mutants (2020)

New Mutants Still Image
‘The New Mutants,’ Still Image — Photo: Claire Folger / 20th Century Studios.

Directed by Josh Boone — Screenplay by Josh Boone & Knate Lee.

For a while there, it seemed like Josh Boone’s The New Mutants would never see the light of day. They wrapped principal photography in September 2017 and originally planned for an April 2018 theatrical release, but, right when Disney executives were working overtime to acquire Fox, the film was delayed over and over again. The film which had been developed by 20th Century Fox was ultimately released by Disney’s 20th Century Studios in the middle of a global pandemic. It felt like the film was quietly being swept under the rug, which may not be far from the truth as the film was the final film from the Fox-era of X-Men. Originally, I was very interested in the film after having seen the early marketing material, which made The New Mutants seem like a true horror film. Now that I have finally seen the film, I can say that the early trailers were more memorable than the film, which is messy and poorly paced. But I will say that it definitely isn’t the complete and utter trainwreck that the constant release delays may have led you to believe. It’s not good, but it certainly isn’t the worst Fox-developed X-Men film. Continue reading “REVIEW: The New Mutants (2020)”

REVIEW: Doctor Sleep (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Doctor Sleep — Directed by Mike Flanagan.

How do you please the fans of two very different masters of storytelling (i.e. Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick) when the storytellers’ understanding of The Shining differs so much that the author, Stephen King, once disowned director Stanley Kubrick’s extremely popular adaptation? How do you continue the story of The Shining on the big screen, when King and Kubrick’s endings are in conflict with each other? Those questions made the adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, a sequel to his hit novel The Shining, an incredibly daunting task exactly because audiences would expect it to also be a sequel to Kubrick’s beloved masterpiece. Mike Flanagan, a promising horror filmmaker who adapted Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game into a terrific Netflix film, was eventually chosen for the difficult task. Ultimately, I think Flanagan, who both wrote, directed, and edited Doctor Sleep, did an outstanding job. Flanagan has confidently united two clashing visions in this quite satisfying, but undeniably unnecessary sequel. Continue reading “REVIEW: Doctor Sleep (2019)”

REVIEW: Wounds (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Wounds — Directed by Babak Anvari.

A couple of years ago, Babak Anvari’s underseen and underappreciated Persian-language horror film — and directorial feature film debut — Under the Shadow was rightfully selected to compete for the foreign-language film award at the Oscars as the British entry. Anvari’s debut was a great surprise and a film that I have recommended to many people over the years. Even though poor word of mouth preceded its release on Netflix, I was still excited to see his second effort as a director of feature-length films. Unfortunately, Wounds, his first English-language feature film, is a messy, dreadful, and disappointing sophomore film. Continue reading “REVIEW: Wounds (2019)”

REVIEW: In the Tall Grass (2019)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of In the Tall Grass — Directed by Vincenzo Natali.

Vincenzo Natali’s In the Tall Grass is a straight-to-Netflix horror film based on the Stephen King and Joe Hill novella of the same name, which was initially released in issues of Esquire magazine in 2012. Natali’s adaptation follows Cal (played by Avery Whitted) and his pregnant sister Becky (played by Laysla De Oliveira), who is considering giving up her baby for adoption. When they are driving in the middle of nowhere, Cal has to pull over because his sister is feeling sick. While having stopped by the side of the road, they both hear a boy (played by Will Buie, Jr.) screaming for help from inside a nearby field of very tall grass. They both decide to enter the field to get him out, but, once they have entered the claustrophobic green field of grass, they quickly realize that they are unable to escape it or even find each other. Continue reading “REVIEW: In the Tall Grass (2019)”

REVIEW: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Lionsgate

The following is a review of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark — Directed by André Øvredal.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is an adaptation of a trilogy of children’s horror short story collections of the same name from author Alvin Schwartz. The film has been in development since 2013, and now Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal has finally brought the children’s short stories to the big screen in the form of a horror film that’s frankly really enjoyable if you know what you’re getting into. This is just scary enough to severely frighten teens, but I don’t think it is so frightening that it’ll haunt them at night unless they are young tweens, but you and your kids’ mileage may vary. It’s a cute and fairly effective horror film that, I think, has the potential to become a favorite for teens. Those who dug Annabelle Comes Home will be happy with this similarly cutesy horror film. Continue reading “REVIEW: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)”

REVIEW: Midsommar (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – A24

The following is a review of Midsommar — Directed by Ari Aster.

As a Scandinavian, any film that revolves around Scandinavia or a specific part of Scandinavian culture, naturally, intrigues me greatly. So Midsommar already had my curiosity, but Ari Aster’s involvement pulled me in and seized my attention, as it were. Ari Aster is one of the most interesting new filmmakers. He is a gifted director whose first narrative feature — Hereditary — was one of the best and most disturbing horror films of the decade. With one of the decade’s best films in the genre under his belt already, his second feature film had a lot to live up to, and even though Midsommar isn’t quite as accessible as his directorial debut, Aster’s slow-burn second feature film showcases his distinct visual style, has thematical depth, and it proves that he is one of the most exciting new auteurs. Continue reading “REVIEW: Midsommar (2019)”

REVIEW: Annabelle Comes Home (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Annabelle Comes Home — Directed by Gary Dauberman.

The lesson Hollywood first learned from the Marvel Cinematic Universe was to rush into these grand connected universes of films. The DC Cinematic Universe almost crashed and burned. The Godzilla-King Kong connected universe of films is currently struggling. Meanwhile, the Universal Monsters so-called ‘Dark Universe’ never really got off the ground. Surprisingly, the attempt to copy the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe that has worked the best has been the Ed and Lorraine Warren-inspired Conjuring Cinematic Universe. Continue reading “REVIEW: Annabelle Comes Home (2019)”