Okay, so I already talked about by favorite older horror movie experiences of last year, so now it’s time for the newbies! I rarely see horror films in the theater, but do try to keep up on the new hotness mainly by listening to Shock Waves and hearing what they’re enjoying on any number of streaming services. Between that, the library and my subscription to Netflix DVD (yup, I’m the one keeping them in business, apparently), I try to stay on top of the genre, but miss a lot. These are the ones I caught!
First off, I loved Ma and want everyone to watch it, but you can read about all that here. I also really enjoyed catching up on one of the more interesting two-movie series’ in recent memory 2017’s Happy Death Day and 2019’s Happy Death Day 2U, both directed by Christopher Landon. Without giving too much away, in the first film (written by longtime comic fave Scott Lobdell) Jessica Rothe’s Tree finds herself in a Groundhog Day situation where she keeps reliving the same day over and over trying to figure out why someone’s killing folks, including her. In the follow-up, Tree finds out why, but that knowledge also comes with the realization that she may be dealing with multiple realities! It’s rad how these two films work so well and go to all these unexpected places while still embracing many slasher tropes.
Before moving on too far, I want to talk about another favorite horror thing that actually breaks my own premise: What We Do In The Shadows the TV series! I would have included it in my list of traditional TV shows of last year, but forgot about it! When I saw the film the show’s based on, it easily became one of my favorites of the decade. The series, which is on FX carries on all of the hilarious horror-based gags and surprising doses of heart, but gets to go even further. Set in Staten Island, a new band of vamps tries to embrace the old ways in the new world (nailed it), bu don’ worry, it’s still set in the same world as the film. I am stupid-excited for the second season to hit in April!
Okay, back to actual movies! I watched a pair of scare flicks set in the 80s: It Chapter One and Summer of ’84. I’m not sure what else can be said about the first part of Andy Muschietti’s It adaptaion. I haven’t read the book, but the fantastic cast helped suck me in to all of the 80s-set action. I haven’t seen the second half yet, but I’ll probably do some kind of mini-marathon. Summer of ’84 is a much lesser known Netflix from a trio of directors. Like a non-supernatural Stranger Things mixed together with aspects of The ‘Burbs or Rear Window depending on how classy you are, this one’s about a group of friends trying to figure out if their neighbor, played by Rich Sommer, is the one killing kids. I’m not going to spoil anything because you should definiely watch this movie if you dig those others I mentioned, but it has a super intense ending that put it up there with Super Dark Times and The Boys In The Trees, two favorites from 2018.
Now to talk about three films that were a pretty big deal recently. Jordan Peel’s Get Out follow-up Us was a mind-bending masterpiece. Anchored by ridiculously compelling anchors and a story I’m sure I didn’t completely understand, this film gave this saturated horror fan about two hours of never-before-seen bloody goodness. Speaking of bloody, Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, a drenched revenge film where Nic Cage essentially becomes a slasher, though an incredibly sympathetic one. This movie is bonkers. Cosmatos had a technicolor vision that (it seems to me) he achieved. I can’t say I fully understood that vision, but it was a wild ride. Lastly, a lot of people warned me about Ari Aster’s Hereditary because I’m a parent. I gotta say, this one did not land with me. It felt way too telegraphed and obvious (not the last 20-30 minutes, of course), BUT Aster got so much out of this cast and I would have fully supported all of them winning a Best Dramatic Ensemble Oscar (not a thing, but it should be). Even though I was ultimately felt lukewarm after watching, I do plan on giving it another look and will watch Midsommar which I think just popped up on Hulu.
Finally, I ended the year with a batch of holiday horror films, including re-watches of Rare Exports and Sint. But I also watched a pair of newbies, both of which were on Hulu: Anna And The Apocalypse and Pooka. The former is an incredible Scottish teen zombie musical that hits on both the “what are we gonna do with our lives” cafeteria musical scenes and the zombie goodness. I didn’t know I wanted all of that and also healthy doses of heart, but it’s exactly what I needed. Can’t wait to see what else director John McPhail comes up with! Meanwhile, Pooka was the first Christmas entry in Blumhouse’ Into The Dark series of films exclusive to Hulu. Directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes, Colossal), this movie about a guy who agrees to play the title character — a mascot for a cantankerous toy — and what that does to his life. It’s real twisty-turny and it’s the kind of movie that has really stuck with me (even though I only watched it last month).