Week one of October's Halloween watchathon is done. This week was all about first-time watches. There are still a few newer titles I want to catch, but I also have a stack of re-watches calling out to me too. Can I keep this up? Will I burn out halfway through? Stay tuned to find out.
I felt like some teen horror slasher bizness to kick off October. This was pretty good for the first 2/3. 90s slasher vibes updated with some vicious kills. Feels like they ran out of time / $ towards the end. Had a great cornfield setting for the finale but just sped through it to a limp finale.
A Classic Horror Story (2021)a ★★★½
This was a solid, well-made horror film with some big turns, but the final twist didn't 100% work for me. But I dug the folk-horror vibes and meanness of the first 2/3. And Matilda Lutz is a badass - I kept waiting for her to go all Revenge on her captors.
A pretty good premise / script with teen slasher / Giallo flavours undone by flat visuals, lacklustre direction and a few weak performances.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981) ★★★★½
Excellent made-for-TV rural horror with shades of Stephen King, especially in the gang of bullies led by a nasty Charles Durning. The choice to follow the villains was an interesting one, and seeing them all crack under the pressure of their impending doom was nicely effective. Even the lack of actual scarecrow action doesn’t bother me. The film builds to a great ending among the rows of corn and pumpkins. A nice Halloween discovery.
The Exorcist: Believer (2023) ★★★
Despite having a good premise and a grounded, dare I say (kind of) realistic take on the material, it once again proves that films shouldn’t be rushed into production just to meet a release date.
Full review HERE.
The Boogeyman (2023) ★★★
A fairly tired bunch of tropes (grief-stricken family / monster as trauma etc) is elevated beyond the mundane with some good performances (especially Sophie Thatcher) and a great sense of style and mood by director Rob Savage. Chris Messina’s therapist Dad, who is unable to talk to and help his own family, was a painful touch that rang true. Unfortunately the CGI beastie is not scary in the slightest - more down to the indistinct design and lack of weight to the creature. This film would probably kill at a teen sleepover though.
I had a lot of fun with this one, despite being overlong. Much more consistent than VHS 99, each story has its own sense of dread and nasty fun. The Mexican set segment had some great turns from 80s news channel to earthquake survival drama to batshit horror. Scott Derrickson’s serial killer short was a nice return to (Sinister) form after last year's keenly felt but very flawed The Black Phone. David Bruckner’s wraparound felt kind of indistinct until he brings it home in the end for a fantastically whacky finale. My main gripe is with the overuse of gun violence. If there was a statement being made there, it wasn’t terribly clear, other than ‘this shit sucks.’ I would’ve preferred a bit more creativity in that regard. This one probably ranks 3rd best in the franchise behind V/H/S/ 2 & '94.
Knock at the Cabin (2023) ★★★½
M. Night Shyamalan adapts Paul Tremblay's novel, crafting a heartfelt, small-scale apocalyptic horror-drama bolstered by excellent performances and Shyamlan's filmmaking craft. The tension builds nicely throughout, and the question 'is the impending apocalypse real or not,' is well-played by Shyamalan until he shows his cards. And thankfully, there is no needless, tacked-on twist this time out.