Horror Movie Reviews

RATING KEY (Overall Score)
10: Outstanding
9: Excellent
8: Very Good
7: Good
6: Above Average
5: Average
4: Below Average
3: Weak
2: Very Weak
1: Poor

HIGHLIGHTS KEY (Best Aspects of the Movie)
A: Acting (The acting really improved the film)
C: Creepy (Not scary or terrifying, unsettling)
D: Divergent (Avoidant of tropes)
F: Funny (More than a couple of laughs)
I: Intensity (Heart-pounding thriller)
M: Music (Score really added to the experience)
P: Plot (Original, fresh)
S: Scary (Above creepy, but not terrifying)
T: Terrifying (Might not watch again out of fear)
U: Unpredictable (Twists and turns are far off from expectation)

9/1/2022: The Silence
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 5-A
Review: This movie is basically A Quiet Place prequel, though unrelated. It reached for too much, and fell short. There’s dashes of The Cave, The Walking Dead, I Am Legend, The Happening, and A Quiet Place, which makes the whole thing seem a muddled mess. Stanley Tucci, though typically a very good actor, has the emotional range of a zombie here. He has one face for his friend dying, ancient evil bat apocalypse, and even his daughter being captured. Female characters throughout depend entirely on men to make sense of their lives, which is a big misstep for me. However, it gets higher marks for me because of only ONE reason: ASL. As a student of ASL, it was really wonderful to see it used so easily. No, it does not use ASL grammar AT ALL, but being a hearing person who learned ASL as a second language, it was cool to see it integrated with the English. I didn’t turn it off immediately, so it was interesting enough, but it didn’t break any new ground. It’s probably not worth the watch though honestly.

9/2/2022: The Perfection
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 9-CDIPSU
Review: This is a remarkable movie, and very modern. It gives Suspiria vibes, if you replace demons and gore with perverts (and I LOVED the 2018 Suspiria). It is a badass, feminist horror movie that will keep you guessing. It wasn’t scary as much as it was unsettling, with a truly wonderful moment of horror camp involving a cleaver. The low points are, in my opinion, the very final scene (though it has its charms), and the pointless rewinds where a jump back without the rewind could have easily sufficed. You will recognize Allison Williams’ stone-cold face from Get Out, and say: “OH SHIT, It’s Steven Weber!” (If you’re a Stephen King aficionado) Just when you think you know where it’s going, it goes someplace else! For that, it feels sort of like 2 movies pushed together, but it really doesn’t bother me at all. I say watch it — it really is pretty awesome! That is, if you like child molesters getting dismembered, which I do! What a strangely poignant film. I would recommend it.

9/3/2022: The Wind
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 7-AMPU
Review: First and foremost, excellent casting in Caitlin Gerard, since she CARRIED this movie. Her solo performances were 80% of this work, and she blew me away. This 19th century homesteading take on a classic possession/ghost story is very intriguing. It is an exercise in restraint, giving only just enough at any point to keep you wondering. I, personally, am not a fan of open-endings, and so this left me a little unsatisfied. However, the ending was still pretty beautiful. The cinematography in this entire film should have probably won an award. This work is a masterpiece in that it was written and directed by women, starring mostly women, in a field (horror) that is so often disparaging of women (as though women don’t understand horror — ha!). It was extremely slow-burn, so there’s really no point where I felt scared, terrified, or even anxious really. Curious is more the overwhelming sensation throughout. In a world of fast-action, this will not meet expectations for modern horror. However, it will keep your attention. I’d say give it a shot.

9/4/2022: The Rental
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 6-ACI
Review: Please understand, I am a pretty big Dan Stevens fan ever since Legion, and I am always impressed by his range. Also, Glow and Snowpiercer were two of my favorite shows for a time. STILL I found this movie to be a bit boring and the ending to be a little pointless. Higher marks for acting because Dan Stevens always brings it (have you seen The Man Who Invented Christmas? It’s amazing) and Alison Brie has such an intensity in her acting that you can’t go wrong in a horror setting. While the plot was somewhat new, it felt very recycled. The silent presence throughout was a little creepy, but far too overpowered by the central storyline to really catch you until the end when everything that happened in the movie doesn’t matter at all. As a writer, I feel this to be bad storytelling — like an entire novel that ends on “and she woke up. It was all a dream.” The plot is a drama turned deadly, but ends up a run-of-the-mill slasher flick, which is pretty disappointing. Still, it was intriguing and cringy for what it was. I’d say take it or leave it.

9/6/2022: Choose or Die
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 5-CFIP
Review: I came into this movie aware that the ratings were NOT good, and I think I know why. This movie was reminiscent of 80’s-style camp horror in a way that really tickled me. There were some truly startling scenes, and mystery, but enough ridiculousness that you can’t take it seriously. I would say it delivered on my expectation. This is not to say it wasn’t a “bad” movie, because it definitely had its low points. The acting was pretty terrible, overall. One may argue that a woman of color is what the genre is missing, and they do spell this point out at the end when a short, white guy is yelling: “Why can’t guys like me be the hero any more?” Wah. But I REALLY don’t think the representation of a Black mother as a crack cocaine addict is really what’s needed in the world; it seems like perpetuating awful, hurtful stereotypes, more than challenging them. So, it gets a major dip in points for this, but I still thought it had its highlights (Robert Englund and 8-bit monster rat). I’d say watch it for a fun time.

9/8/2022: Cargo
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 9-AI
Review: The summary on IMDB says but one line: “After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter.” And that is, actually, the entire movie pretty much except for poignant social commentary on native Australians. Still, this movie kept me enthralled. Maybe it was Martin Freeman, because he’s always an excellent actor, or maybe it was just fresh enough to be interesting… Not sure which. I will say, though, this is NOT a horror movie. In my view, the zombie drama really burst onto the scene with Dawn of the Dead in 2004, and picked up steam with season 2 of The Walking Dead. In my definition, the zombie drama is mainly a drama with a zombie apocalypse as the added tension, not the focus. You can really see this in season 3 of TWD and beyond, when zombies really take a backseat to character interaction and development. Since then, there has been a steady stream of zombie dramas (Warm Bodies, The Cured, etc.) (note: I do not include The Last Man on Earth which I love, or its adaptations since zombies occupy as much as 50% of the movie tension). In that vein, this is definitely a zombie drama, not a horror in any way. But, it is a REALLY good movie so I’d definitely recommend it.

9/10/2022: Till Death
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 4-IP
Review: This has the one thing that never fails to piss me off in horror movies: unreal attackers. I am willing to suspend disbelief for Freddy, Jason, and Michael because their Terminator-like dedication to pursue a victim can be supernatural. However, in a movie with a human attacker, I really do despise the unnatural ability to immediately chase someone after being slammed in the head with bolt cutters, or have the physical stamina to hold someone underwater when you’ve been stabbed near (or in) the heart. I don’t give a crap about one’s dedication to murder, bodies do not work that way, and you really can’t will yourself to performing actions when severely injured, no matter how much adrenaline you have. Megan Fox has never been a favorite actor, and she’s the same here. The plot is quite interesting, but completely unbelievable in many ways. The intensity was definitely high, but got exhausting. Overall, I was disappointed. I’d say skip this one.

9/13/2022: Midnight Mass (TV Limited Series)
Where to Watch: Netflix
Rating: 5-ACP
Review: Instead of my horror movie a day, I spent the past several days working through Netflix’s “Midnight Mass.” I thought the applications and overlaps of Christianity and Vampirism were intriguing and fresh. The intensity of Hamish Linklater (Father Paul) was the cornerstone of the show. His religious zealotry was SO convincing. However, this show is really just The Tommyknockers with vampires instead of aliens. This article on Nerdist says it “pays homage” to Stephen King — no. For someone who watched Children of the Corn for their “Friday the 13th” party at age 11, I know this does not “pay homage”, it is a blatant stripping of many Stephen King plots. Creepy, small-town politics of Delores Claiborne, scary religious woman of The Mist, alcoholic searching for redemption a la The Shining (Doctor Sleep, et al.), and yeah, most of the plot of The Tommyknockers. Still, I found it compelling enough to watch all the way through. The ending had me and my partner in a blubbering mess of tears. Almost nothing happens for the first 3 or 4 episodes, so if you make it past those, you’ll be in for some thrills. I say take it or leave it.

9/15/2022: 1408
Where to Watch: Plex (it’s totally free with ads, click here to watch!)
Rating: 10-DIPSU
Review: Altering course a bit from new to me movies, I re-watched one of my all-time FAVORITE movies, 1408. This wildly underrated movie is a study in the uncanny, which is the main focus of my project, so watching it again was simply necessary. To get a step-by-step guide on how to approach and surpass the boundaries of Freud’s concept of the uncanny, this movie captures it perfectly. For some reason, I am a big fan of John Cusack — his aloof acting evokes dread somehow, which lends itself perfectly to this and another favorite of his work, Identity. The whole premise is turning haunted hotels on their heads, with some of the most upsetting psychological horror I’ve ever seen. As a parent, this movie submerges me into the dark hopelessness of the character, which proves to be a supremely disturbing watch. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it free at the link above!

9/19/2022: Fresh
Where to Watch: Hulu
Rating: 7-ACIP
Review: I will preface this with the statement that I really hate body horror. I watched Human Centipede when it was heavily talked about and found it not at all scary, just disgusting. I think body horror is really one of the lamest genres of horror. So, that being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of this, personally. Objectively, it was a good movie. The plot was absolutely as “fresh” as the title suggests. The acting was excellent, the ending was satisfying, and the undertones (very feminist) fit perfectly with my project. However, I spent most of my time feeling queasy and unsettled; the experience in NO way was enjoyable for me. It was a pretty compelling movie, but I found myself wanting to fast forward all the time. So, if you’re into body horror, or don’t mind it and like feminist undertones regarding the experience of abuse, I’d say watch it! But, for me this is a hard pass.

9/20/2022: Starry Eyes
Where to Watch: Peacock
Rating: 5-DU
Review: As it would happen, my project is now taking me into the depths of transformation narratives. So, even though my last review said that I do not like body horror, I will be seeing quite a bit. I grabbed this title from a list on best transformation horror movies. It is tense, confusing, and bizarre. I don’t know if it was a vampire movie or not. The lead actress, Alex Essoe (who was actually in Midnight Mass as well), has pretty remarkable range displayed in this one movie. It didn’t really keep me on my toes or anything, I think it was just aiming to be gross and horrible. I tried to think of what the allegory was, but it’s not really clear. Maybe the transformation that takes place in the way you view yourself after sexual assault? But I really couldn’t say, its meanings and ideas were pretty obscured. I would say pass on this one.

9/21/2022: The Black Phone
Where to Watch: Peacock, or still in select theaters
Rating: 8-IPSU
Review: I remember seeing ads for this in summer and thinking: “what’s up with Ethan Hawke and horror movies lately?” But I also wanted to see it. I always think Ethan Hawke looks like he never quite left 1999, so I guess the mask throughout the movie really helped shake that image. This movie is a bargain two-for-one film. You get a kidnapping thriller AND a ghost movie all in one. For that, I would have to say congrats on a pretty cool mashup. The whole thing really kept me guessing, and was intense from beginning to end (but also pretty sad). It was a satisfying watch, but not a “changed my life and worldview” type of movie. The plot wraps up perfectly in a way that only fiction can do — so claps for the writer(s). There was almost no psychological horror, so it didn’t keep me enthralled, but I definitely watched it to see what would happen next. A pretty solid watch.

9/23/2022: Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Where to Watch: Shudder
Rating: ?-IS
Review: Let me say that I actually have seen this before but not for probably 20 years, and I was most likely stoned at the time. I remember it being boring, and, largely, it is. However, I can definitely see the impacts its had on the horror film genre. By today’s standards, it really isn’t an excellent film, but for the time holy shit it would have been the scariest thing anyone had ever seen. But I’ve watched the derivative of it “House of 1000 Corpses” like 25 times, so it really didn’t surprise me. The intensity was kind of irritating at times. Still, it was pretty nerve-wracking even now. If you haven’t seen it, I mean you have to. It is like a rite of passage in horror movie watching.

9/28/2022: You’re Next
Where to Watch: Peacock
Rating: 8-CFIP
Review: After getting started on my first week back in school, I was finally able to catch another movie, and I’m glad this is the one I reeled in! This is definitely a gore fest and the deaths are some of the most convincing I’ve seen (and there are a lot of deaths). It is a serious bloodbath, with more than one twist that will keep you on your toes. The ending really brought the humor, and I just loved the main character, Erin (Sharni Vinson). She’s a total badass, and this movie was really fun while being extremely intense. I’d say definitely check it out.

9/30/2022: The Thing (1982)
Where to Watch: Peacock
Rating: 10-SFU
Review: I’ve literally spent my whole life never having seen this and I’m ashamed. This is the height of John Carpenter and 80’s horror. I always go on IRL about how the 80’s was the pinnacle of horror due to such extreme measures needing to be taken for special effects. No matter how lame and unrealistic, those items exist in the real world. Someone legit touched and moved that monstrosity! That counts for a lot in my world. So yeah, it was a goddamn masterpiece for 80’s cinema. The ending is *muah* chef’s kiss. It reminds me a lot of my other Carpenter favorite: “In the Mouth of Madness”, which is a blatant Lovecraft rip-off, but still one of the best movies ever. I’m sure I’m like the last horror fan on Earth who hasn’t seen this, but if you have not, I highly suggest it. It will be in regular rotation.

10/13/2022: Hellraiser (2022)
Where to Watch: Hulu
Rating: 2-U
Rating: I am absolutely enraged by this reboot! It is so awful. I wanted so much to like it, but it was awful. There were elements of the original two, but nothing that I could really sink my teeth into. There were my least favorite moments of “*elbow elbow* eh eh remember this?” scattered, but I was mostly just immensely disappointed in the cenobites. My heart is in tears for Jamie Clayton – I was absolutely changed in a profound way by Sense8, largely due to Jamie Clayton. This is a disgrace to her beauty. All of the Cenobites here lost their grit and fearful quality, their absolutely PRESENCE on the screen for “sexy Cenobite” costuming. I read Clive Barker, I own many of his books. I’ve read some of the Hellraiser comics, and I really have to say they really fucked it up making them so sexual for this movie. I KNOW that sexuality is big in Clive Barker, but violent sexuality – as my partner put it: “Fantasy gone wrong.” That is integral to the Cenobite mythology, and making them so sexy really draws from that. I won’t even get into how aesthetically unappealing I found Odessa A’zion to be (it was hard to watch). I almost got excited that queerness founded the first scene (since it plays so heavily into Barker’s work), but was very much abandoned. Not enough room to talk about how much I hate this reboot.


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