Halloween Scene: New Movie Roundup

p9523329_p_v8_aaAs I mentioned in my first post in what felt like forever, I was awful busy looking at Halloween related material for work throughout September and October, which resulted in a lack of posts here on the site, a first if I’m not mistaken. Sure, Halloween season is technically over, but I wanted to write a bit more about a few of the newer movies I saw on Netflix in preparation for two Spinoff lists: 5 Recent Indie Supernatural Horror Movies Worth Watching and 5 Recent Slasher Flicks to Take a Stab at For Halloween.

First off a little background that I mentioned in those posts, but didn’t get fully into. While looking around for horror movies on Netflix Instant back in September, I realized that a lot of movies I’d heard good things about on Killer POV (my favorite horror podcast) were on there. I tend to avoid new horror movies out of a kind of fear, not necessarily a fear of being frightened by them, but a fear of being subjected to awful depravity. Let’s face it, that was the subgenre du jour for a while there. It seemed like every new movie I watched was just filled with torture. Not my bag.

john dies at the endBut after hearing about so many quality movies that had come out — many of which don’t work for everyone, which is fine my me — I decided to focus my viewing efforts this season on new movies from this decade. With only four years to choose from, I was a little worried about slim pickings, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and happy with the results. In fact, I think I enjoyed everything I watched (at least on some level).

Alright, let’s start with the Supernatural list. I covered them pretty well, but to take things a few steps further Don Coscarelli’s John Diest At The End and Resolution are two of my favorite scary movies in a long time. I loved The Innkeepers. Like I said in the review, between the on-screen scares and my anticipation of scares based on lesser films, I was pretty wiped by the end of that viewing experience. I thought about watching Ti West’s Sacrament, but wussed out.

rites of springI’d seen Odd Thomas on Netflix several times, wasn’t sure about it, but finally watched it and really enjoyed it. It kind of reminded me of Brick, but with less melodrama and more death-monsters. I liked it so much, I’m actually reading Dean Koontz’s Odd Hours from the library. It has the same feel as the movie. I’d like to see Anton Yelchin star in a series of films or, better yet, a TV show based on the character. I still can’t tell if All Cheerleader’s Die is a super clever film or I’m just reading too far into it, but it was definitely worth the watch.

Over to the slashers, this was another pleasantly surprising batch of films. I was especially surprised by how much I enjoyed Curse Of Chucky as that’s not exactly a series I’m in love with. I also wasn’t sure if Maniac would be my bag because I’ve never seen the original or its fellow real-killer-in-NYC ilk, but I found it chilling and Elijah Wood captivating in the lead role. I actually felt super creepy walking anywhere near a woman when I was going from the hotel to the bar during NYCC because of that viewing experience. Stage Fright was so much fun, but that might be solely because of my experience in high school musical theater. It’s goofy and weird, but I’m okay with that.

The-Innkeepers-PosterI’ll be honest, I didn’t actually watch Hatchet II again, but those films are still some of the best slasher flicks I’ve ever laid eyes on from any decade. I didn’t really think about it until I wrote that list, but it’s difficult to think of any other series with that much consecutive quality. Finally, I really liked the look and mash-up feel of Rites Of Spring. It’s on the shortlist of movies I watched this year that had a distinct color pallet and style. I found myself wondering if the Stranger was actually satiating a kind of crop god or just a crazy person throwing blood down on a man in a weird mask for decades. It would have been nice to get some of those answers, but I didn’t think they were necessary.

I also watched American Mary. I’ve got a blog post written that I’ll throw up this week. Here’s a preview, I thought it was pretty damn unique, but I’ll probably never watch it again. I still really dig the You’re Next viewing experience and do think I’ll return to that one at some point. Speaking of repeated viewings, that was the focus of my late-October horror movie schedule which will make up another post!

Halloween Scene: You’re Next (2011)

you're next poster I don’t watch nearly as many horror movies as I used to. Part of that is the season — I find myself wanting to watch action flicks or dumb 80s comedies when it’s warm out — but a much larger part is the fact that I have two kids who not only hog the TV, but also sap the energy out of me. Because of that, I cherish my movie-and-TV-watching a lot more than I used to. I’m much less likely to spend that time watching something bad or untested. I’d heard a lot of good things about You’re Next from director Adam Wingard by say of the excellent Killer POV podcast, so when the movie popped up on Netflix Instant, I was in. Not only did I actually watch the whole thing in one sitting (wholly uncommon these days), but I also really enjoyed the experience.

The basic plot of the film is that a rich family meets up at the parents’ request for a weekend that includes boyfriends, girlfriends and spouses. Unfortunately for the assembled, a trio of murderers wearing masks — wolf, tiger and lamb — decide to start taking them out one by one. What the attackers don’t know, though, is that one of the girlfriends, Erin (Sharni Vinson from Step Up 3D!), also happens to come from a family of preppers and can more than take care of herself.

One of the complaints I heard on Killer POV was that the prepper reveal felt a little clunky. I’ve got to disagree. She displayed plenty of crazy abilities (not only being able to kill a man with a kitchen mallet, but also knowing ways of keeping the house and its inhabitants safe) and only explained herself when asked by one of the other girlfriends. This seemed earned to me. How else would a 20-something college student of any gender know how to do these things, especially in a crazy situation?

 I think one of the reasons the film was so appealing to me was that I’ve often thought about stories where the killer chooses the wrong people to take on. That’s obviously a major component of the slasher genre in respect to there being a survivor or two. Obviously that person had skills that kept her or him alive, but what if they really picked on the wrong person, in this case a strong young woman who’s perfectly prepared to knock their blocks off.

 All in all, You’re Next offered up a solid round of performances from the whole cast, a story I hadn’t seen before and kept me entertained long enough to watch the whole movie in one sitting, so for all that it gets the UM seal of approval.