• Jigsaw (2017)

    They need to stop making these movies. Seriously. It’s the same crap over and over.

    The murder games start up again and everyone thinks dead Jigsaw/John Kramer is behind it. Due to some clever jumping around in time it is revealed that the true killer is a copycat of Jigsaw attempting to recreate the first death games that were never discovered by the police.

    I love how the current game takes place on the farm of John Kramer’s wife where the first game was played 10 years prior with the devices and body remains never discovered. Talk about inept detectives never going to search all locations associated with a serial killer. Luckily, the forensic investigator put together that a swine virus found on one of the current victims had also been found on the wife’s farm.

    They try to be clever with twists and misdirection, but it ends up opening up gaping plotholes.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Hulu and Amazon Prime


  • A Quiet Place (2018)

    The Office’s John Krasinski co-writes, directs, and stars in this fascinating horror tale with a unique twist. It’s a post apocalyptic Swiss Family Robinson tale with blind monsters that track the slightest sound.

    Krasinski and Emily Blunt play the mother and father of 3 children. They live on a farm and use sign language to communicate. One of the children is deaf, which explains the sign language, and creates some interesting scenarios as she is at a disadvantage not knowing how much noise she is making.

    Much of the movie is seeing the family deal with the established rules of their new reality. There are some serious problems, though, like why would you have a baby in that environment? Not only is it a rough existence with no health care and scraping to get by, but a baby makes so much noise. That thing will be shredded by the monsters in no time.

    I really liked the tense situations and the emotional impact of the character connections. Much of the movie is very much about parenting and trying to keep your kids alive, which I can respect.

    Rating:

    Only available for rental from these locations


  • The First Purge (2018)

    In this prequel to the Purge series, a new governing body, known as the New Founding Fathers of America, decides hold an experimental 12-hour “purge” period on Staten Island. Due to growing unrest fueled by crime and economic crises, it is determined that society needs this “anything goes” experiment to act as a catharsis for the chaos gripping the nation.

    The story opens with the NFFA actively recruiting residents of Staten Island to be paid to stay on the island and/or be actively involved in the purge to make money off killing others. There are three main characters, a drug kingpin named Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), an activist named Nya (Lex Scott Davis), and her brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade). Each decides to stay on Staten Island during the inaugural purge for various reasons. Isaiah is particularly interesting because he stays to go after this addict who tried to slice him up before the purge began, but the only problem is that Isaiah is not a killer at heart.

    The Purge starts and the killing begins, but not nearly enough for the NFFA mastermind. It is revealed that mercenaries posing as a multitude of gangs show up on Staten Island for the sole purpose of making the First Purge a success.

    It was about as entertaining as the last one, but I kind of feel like they need to move in a different direction with this series. Rather than go back and show how it all began, show the aftermath of how it all ends. Or maybe in the next one, they could do like an Escape from New York type of thing where they decide to restrict access to Staten Island and make it a permanent Purge zone. Maybe even set up Purge zones around the country. Poor people would be forced to live there and then rich people could go hunt them. Why don’t I get paid to write this stuff?

    Rating:

    Available for streaming rental only


  • Green Room (2016)

    Who is the most frightening horror movie villain? Freddy Krueger? Nah. Jason Voorhees? No way. Michael Myers? Shaa–as if! It’s actually a group of well-organized neo-Nazis.

    This has got to be one of the most brutal and intense movies I’ve seen in recent years. I heard it was extreme, but I was not prepared.

    A punk rock band is on the road living out of their van. After a sour gig and almost no cash, they agree to play a small club in a remote location outside Portland, OR. As the band is leaving, one of the band members (Anton Yelchin) witnesses the aftermath of a savage stabbing, which creates a problem for the club’s owner (Patrick Stewart). Things go from bad to worse to the 10th level of hell very quickly as the club owner mobilizes a small army of neo-Nazis to make the problem disappear.

    While I would have liked a bit more character development, the realism and dark tone of desperation sold the story. The cast was exactly what was needed, and Anton Yelchin shines, as usual, despite a more subdued role.

    This is definitely one of those movies where you see it once and you don’t ever need to see it again.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017)

    I had higher hopes for this one than I probably should have. The weird thing is that I usually enjoy slow building, atmospheric movies a lot.

    The plot was both mysterious and intricate. The main story follows two girls at a Catholic boarding school before a holiday break. One girl struggling with the possibility of being pregnant and delays her parents’ pickup by telling them the wrong date. The other girl’s parents never show up on pickup day.

    There is then a subplot about a down-on-her-luck girl at a bus station who is helped by a husband and wife. This plot and the other plot align nicely by the end as the details of their identities emerge.

    I did like the eerie tone and the constant nagging suspicions involving some of the characters and their sinister tendencies. The performances were great and the sparse horror elements made them more punctuated when they were revealed.

    It’s not a bad film, it just feels like it is missing something.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Cube (1997)

    It was the late 90s and I had heard about this little indie science fiction horror movie about some people stuck inside a maze. When I watched it, I was amazed at the execution of such a simple concept and how it was both satisfying and unsettling.

    The basic premise is 5 people trapped inside some sort of massive Rubik’s Cube from hell. They can move from room to room, but some rooms have horrific traps. Certain characters have training or traits that help to move them through the cube rooms without getting shredded, disintegrated, or dissolved in one of the trap rooms.

    What’s fascinating is the psychological pressure of going on the journey of being locked in the foreign place with a bunch of strangers and imminent death around every corner. So many questions come up, like:

    • Why these people?
    • Who made the Cube?
    • Where is it located?
    • Are aliens involved?

    Even with many of the bigger questions going unanswered, the enjoyment comes from the discovery process and the characters using their skills to solve puzzles enough to think they are making progress.

    I also liked the character interactions and even though there wasn’t a lot of gore, it was pretty intense. My only real complaint is that the acting talent is somewhat lacking. It’s not what I consider to be bad acting. It is not that the actors never took any lessons and had no natural talent. It’s more of a lack of expressing compelling emotion.

    Overall, this is a fun flick that is mysterious and keeps the intensity throughout.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Netflix


  • Stepfather 2: Make Room For Daddy (1989)

    Terry O’Quinn (Lost’s John Locke) is back as Jerry Blake the serial killer, having somehow survived the massive knife wound to the chest in the first movie. This movie starts with him in a maximum security asylum, which he breaks out of after murdering his psychiatrist and a guard.

    With a manhunt under way, Jerry travels from Washington state to Los Angeles where he starts up old shenanigans and assumes a new identity, Gene Clifford. He finds a suburban house to lease and immediately targets and begins to woo the realtor who lives nearby, Carol (Meg Foster).

    Things get complicated when Carol’s ex-husband returns and the mail carrier begins to suspect something is amiss with Gene’s identity.

    Much like the first one, Terry O’Quinn’s performance is the best part of the whole thing. The story and characters are pretty bland. There isn’t much horror or suspense, because the things that create tension just aren’t there. It ends right after the climax, which feels abrupt, but honestly, I’m glad it didn’t linger any longer.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

    I will admit I had really low expectations going into this one. I may have seen the first Slumber Party Massacre and it may have been terrible.

    The crazy thing is that this sequel was actually pretty entertaining, even though it is total schlock.

    The story follows Courtney (Crystal Bernard), who was a survivor of the first massacre and is plagued with nightmares involving death and a guy with a guitar drill thing. She and three of her friends have a rock band and decide to go to the one friend’s condo to practice for the weekend.

    Everything is going great as the girls party and have pillow fights. Their boy toys show up to keep things “friendly”. Courtney continues to have nightmares and starts to think she is going insane.

    Out of nowhere, the leather-clad greaser dude with the drill guitar shows up and starts murdering everyone. Things get really tense and a tad bit campy, too. It’s all good fun.

    By the time everything wraps up, you’re left with a sense of satisfaction, and that’s really all you need.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)

    A schoolteacher in New Orleans, Annie (Kelly Rowan), is haunted by the urban legend of Candyman in this sequel to the 1992 horror hit. Tony Todd reprises his role as the hook-handed Candyman, who murdered Annie’s father at some point in the past. Her brother goes after an author who wrote a book about the Candyman murders, and ends up being framed for the author’s murder.

    There is a bit of back story surrounding the Candyman character, and ultimately, it hurt the mystery and menace of what was otherwise a pretty frightening character. The sad part was that it was kind of the best part of the movie. The plot and characters were so mundane and tedious, I was constantly fighting to stay awake.

    Really, your best bet is to say “Candyman” five times in front of a mirror and hope he comes to stab you with his hook hand before you make the mistake of trying to watch this dogshit movie.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Hatchet (2007)

    They call this the start of a new classic horror series, but I’m not buying it. Sure, this movie spawned three sequels, but it’s not exactly ground breaking.

    In New Orleans for Mardi Gras, a group of friends decide to take a haunted bus/swamp tour when things take a deadly turn. On the boat tour, they are told about a local legend involving a deformed child, known as Victor Crowley, who used to live in a house in the swamp. The boat sinks, stranding the tourists in the middle of the swamp. What could go wrong?

    Victor Crowley emerges to stalk and kill everyone on the tour in true slasher fashion, because he’s a territorial and vengeful bastard.

    This movie is one gigantic homage to the iconic horror movie serieses of the 80s including: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You’ve got a badass supernatural villain character stalking and murdering 20-something idiots in the woods/swamp. They even cast Kane Hodder (played Jason Voorhees a few times) as Victor Crowley.

    The deaths were some of the most gruesome I’ve seen. Dismemberment, belt-sanding, hatchet hacking, and impalement. Lots of blood and body parts.

    It ends very abruptly and you’re left feeling like: “meh.”

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream for free with ads on Vudu