Old and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
M Night Shyamalan is far from my favorite filmmaker, but I’m always interested to see whatever it is he’s made whenever his name flashes by on a trailer with this film being no exception! The conceit seemed decent enough in a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits sort of way which is definitely in his wheelhouse, but there was A LOT going on here that made this look both laughable and disturbing. I guess that’s why we all keep giving him more and more chances as no matter how bad he burns us with movies like The Happening, Last Airbender, and After Earth, there’s always something to his thrillers that makes them unique among everything else that makes it to theaters. Does he manage to knock it out of the park once again with this ghastly tale of time gone haywire, or will this tank so bad that he’ll have to make another low budget found footage movie as penance? Let’s find out!!
A family of four with parents Guy and Prisca (Gael Garcia Bernal and Vicky Krieps) as well as the young kids Trent and Maddox (Emun Elliott and Embeth Davidtz) are vacationing at a resort THAT THEY JUST SO HAPPENED TO FIND ON THE INTERNET where they cater to your every need in the most beautiful tropical paradise you’ve ever seen! Not only that, they have a secret beach that is PERFECT for spending a day at, so the four of them head out there along with another family of four (Rufus Sewell, Abbey Lee, Kathleen Chalfant, and Kyle Bailey) as well as a nice couple (Ken Leung and Nikki Amuka-Bird) to enjoy the day swimming relaxing! Things go sideways fairly soon however as Trent finds a dead body which some mysterious guy who was already there (Aaron Pierre) seems to recognize, and not long after that the oldest among them start to get sick. They try to leave but something is causing them to black out as soon as they try to step through the cavern that led them here, and to make matters worse the three kids all start to age rapidly. Trent and Maddox (now played by Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie) and reaching adulthood within hours and everyone who has a medical condition is getting worse and worse as the seemingly fast passage of time is leaving their conditions untreated to rampage through their bodies. With only hours to go before the adults grow old enough to die from age alone, can they find a way to escape this beach before losing all the time they have left? What possible reason could there be for the beach being this way, and why were they put there in the first place? If they get out of this alive, do the kids get like twenty birthday presents in a day?
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Adam Robitel
I have next to no memories of the first movie other than a general sense of loathing and contempt for its central premise and absurd ending. The whole thing just got memory-holed like so many bad horror movies I saw in theaters which I guess is an interesting position to be in when watching a sequel as the lack of concrete feelings definitely gives it a lot of leeway as far as trying new things; not to mention that the overall low opinion going into it only makes the bar that much easier to clear. It’s certainly possible that whatever negativity I felt for the first film has burned itself out and I’ll be more open for whatever this Saw Knockoff franchise wants to throw at me, but then again the trailers weren’t exactly selling me on anything beyond elaborate traps and people yelling which certainly sounds familiar to what I didn’t like last time around. Besides, we don’t NEED a Saw Knockoff anymore now that they’ve brought the series back and aimed it in a new and interesting direction! In any case, does this latest entry in the ESCAPE ROOM UNIVERSE expand upon the original and actually give us something interesting, or will this movie double down on everything that didn’t work the first time? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film (which are helpfully summarized in a sequence that might as well have started with PREVIOUSLY ON ESCAPE ROOM), Zoey and Ben (Taylor Russell and Logan Miller) are still looking for the mysterious Minos corporation that set up the elaborate game from the first film and have seemingly set up games like this all over the place. After some cajoling from Zoey, the two of them travel to New York which seems to be their base of operations but find nothing there except an empty alley and a purse snatcher. Said purse snatcher grabs Zoey’s compass which I THINK was given to her by one of the characters in the first movie, and after an overly long chase through the streets of New York, they wind up on a subway car while the thief jumps out at the last second. For reasons that are never properly explained, this subway car JUST SO HAPPENS to have four other passengers on it and they all get directed into another one of those deadly escape rooms. ALSO as it turns out, the four other people are previous winners of one of Minos’s games which makes this (as one character helpfully says out loud) a tournament of champions. Our previous winners are Rachel, Brianna, Nathan, and Theo (Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Thomas Cocquere, and Carlito Olivero), and all six of them have to go from room to room solving deadly puzzles for some nebulous goal and the chance to maybe not get murdered, though with Zoey and Ben hot on Minos’s heels it seems unlikely that this game is just gonna swing open the doors for them even if they manage to find the right number of keys in a fish tank or whatever. Will Minos finally be brought down by the very champions that they’ve created, or will everyone be out for themselves in a desperate bid for survival? Is there more to this game than they first realize, or are the Shyamalan twists in this thing easy to spot from a mile away? Does any of it even matter when the game is apparently being run by money wizards that can literally do anything at any time with these nonsensical traps?
Halloween Kills is owned by Universal Pictures and all the images you see in this trailer talk are the property of their respective owners
The Halloween sequel from 2018 (which was actually the THIRD sequel to the original movie; fourth if you count the sequel to the Rob Zombie reboot) had a VERY clear path to a sequel which I thought was to its detriment. For me, finishing off the series, at least as far as Jamie Lee Curtis’s involvement with it, in one final definitive perfect movie would have been preferable to… well pretty much what they did the LAST time they brought Jamie Lee Curtis back. In H20, she definitively killed Michael Myers and ended the nightmare, but then they made a sequel to bring him back and it was the worst Halloween film; yes, even worse than either cut of Curse. Well despite my protestations, Universal and Blum House are going ahead with the sequel and we have our first trailer to check out. Let’s see what they’ve got for us aside from a very awkward title!
Now it’s hard to say how any of it will work until we see the movie, but what’s interesting is that they are pretty much following the ORIGINAL sequel formula which is to have it take place on the same night after Laurie is taken to the hospital and have most of the action take place there. They sort of did that at the start of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II as a misdirection before jumping ahead to several months later, but here they seem to be playing it fairly straight which COULD work I suppose, but so much of this trailer feels like retreading what we saw in the last movie. Laurie is determined to kill Michael Myers, the cops are completely ineffectual, and somehow Michael manages to find the rest of Laurie’s family. There also seems to be a shift in Laurie’s character based on the dialogue in this trailer which is raising some red flags for me as well. In the last movie she was the only one who REALLY understood Michael, not as a fascinating glimpse into the human psyche like the podcasters or Dr. Sartain and not as a mere annoyance to be dealt with like the Sherriff, but as a mere mortal who is capable of great evil. Her references to him being THE BOOGEYMAN as a coy put down of the myth people want to build up around him is also a defense mechanism to try and keep herself above everyone else and therefore justify her survivalist lifestyle. Here, she’s talking about how each kill makes Michael grow stronger; like he’s a freaking Highlander. Perhaps the lines are worded differently in the final film, but it feels like we’re going down the same road that the latter sequels did in making Michael more than he actually is.
Willy’s Wonderland and all the images you see in this review are owned by Screen Media Films
Directed by Kevin Lewis
You know, Nicolas cage may not be in big Hollywood movies anymore but he’s got a decent eye for the VOD and Indie markets. He’s worked with guys like Panos Cosmatos, he was in probably the best HP Lovecraft movie in I don’t know how long, and that Brian Taylor movie Parents was an absolute trip and frankly should have gotten much more attention than it did. Now he’s starring in an unofficial Five Nights at Freddy’s movie which would otherwise looks like an Asylum knock off. Say what you will about Cage, at least he hasn’t gotten to Carmen Electra, C Thomas Howell, and Danny Trejo levels yet! Does Nicolas Cage prove once again prove his savviness at picking low budget projects, or was this just an easy paycheck for all involved? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with a mysterious stranger (Nicolas Cage) getting the tires on his car ripped apart on a random country road near a dead end country town. How much of a dead end is this town? They don’t just lack any sort of internet service here, they don’t even have the infrastructure to support ATMs which means that Cage can’t just pay for the tires; he has to do this the old fashioned way with a favor and a handshake. The town Business Guy (Ric Reitz) offers to pay for Cage’s new tires if he spends the night cleaning his janky as heck pizza place called Willy’s Wonderland; a children’s pizzeria with a cast of animatronic characters that love nothing more than to sing their happy songs for the children. Unfortunately the little pizza shop has a VERY sordid past but that’s about to change as our local Business Guy is hoping to fix it up and get it running again which is all going to start with a little bit of elbow grease and a lots of window cleaner! Cage silently agrees and is locked inside for some reason, but he doesn’t mind because he’s got a job to do and a bag full of PUNCH COLA to keep him nice and hydrated! All is not as it seems however as some local kids led by Liv Hawthorne (Emily Tosta) are trying to burn the place to the ground but decide to try and convince Cage to come out first before they do it. And why would they want to do that? Well if the creepy animatronics and shady deal with the Business Guy wasn’t enough of a clue, it turns out this place is haunted for some reason and that she has some very grisly experiences with the place, so turning it to ashes will bring some degree of closure for her. Still, seems like a bad idea to just run into the pizzeria full of haunted and murderous robots no matter how fluffy their fur is and it turns into a fight for survival as the teens try to escape the death trap and Cage continues to clean up stains wherever he finds them! Will the horrors of this place finally be put to bed with the help of our mysterious stranger? What exactly is keeping this place standing all these years, and why is Business Guy so gung ho to reopen in the first place? Will Nicolas Cage clean the floors so well that you could eat off of them!?
It’s that time of year again for ghosts and ghouls to roam the streets (which you shouldn’t be doing this year) and for us to get reacquainted with some old friends like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger, and Michael Myers! There are no shortage of movies we could be talking about starring these icons of horror, but we’re going to take things in a slightly different direction here and familiarize ourselves with the oft overlooked subgenre of horror comics! All three of these characters have had their share of funny books based off their exploits, so why not find out which one has the best stories to tell and are the most fun to read? And no, we won’t be going into the Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash comics as they are their own separate thing from either franchise’s main books. Next year perhaps!? Well let’s get through this first before we start planning ahead!
In Last Place for Bad Taste – Friday The 13th
Starting this list with the most heartbreaking of them all, my beloved Jason Voorhees has had undoubtedly the WORST comics on this list. Why? Well with this series you basically get two kinds of stories; blatantly fetishistic gore porn and philosophical musings from pompous edge lords. It’s a blatantly cynical misunderstanding of the character and the franchise as the stories seem to think that Jason is supposed to be the protagonist. You may have goes to the movie to SEE Jason Voorhees, but the stars of those movies were Alice Hardy, Tommy Jarvis, Tina Shepard, and so on. For almost every single one of these books there’s hardly a character worth rooting for or a victim who’s death is anything short of gleefully excessive because the writers want you to side with Jason as some sort of agent of chaos here to destroy THE MAN. Corrupt cops, evil corporations, and at its absolute most revolting point gay people, are all lined up for Jason to take his brutal bloody revenge out on to the cheers of the audience; either because you WANT those people to die or because your tickled by the rendering of blood and viscera on the page. The tackiest ones are where they try to justify their wanton bloodlust and by making Jason some sort of avenging spirit of Native American Genocide, like the supped up version of prefacing all MRA bullshit with WHITE women to try and pretend you’re not just an angry at all women, and this is something they try TWICE; once in the 2008 series and again in the Bad Land 2 parter. Out of all of these books, the only three that stand out as anything other than dreck are Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Vs. Leatherface, and Pamela’s Tale. Jason Vs. Leatherface is bad for a lot of the same reasons as the other books are BUT it has enough tongue in cheek humor to dull its more obnoxious moments, and the artwork has a grotesque EC Comics by way of Alfred E Newman look that lightens the mood considerably. Pamela’s Tale, while rather unnecessary as it’s just a prequel that doesn’t do all that much interesting with the characters, at least is driven by something other than gore and titillation as we see how she came to have Jason and how she ended up working at the camp. It’s far too happy to throw out allusions to future aspects of the franchise when it could have done its own thing, but I found it an entertaining enough read and one that didn’t make me repeatedly wince like so many of the other books. Jason Goes to Hell is the definite standout as it’s just a retelling of the ninth movie, but that film is pretty underrated as is and I think the more fantastical elements are better suited for a comic book; not to mention that the script for that movie is FAR superior to the original scripts they wrote for the other comic books as it focuses on characters instead of just watching a lumbering monster be directed at whatever gripes the writer has with the world. Aside from those three there’s not really anything to recommend as even the ones that pull back on the overt gore have garbage themes and characters, so I’d avoid almost every single one of these like the plague.
The Good: Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993); Friday the 13th: Pamela’s Tale (2007)
The Meh: Jason Vs. Leatherface (1995)
The Ugly: Friday the 13th: Bloodbath (2005), Friday the 13th Special (2005); Jason X Special (2005); Jason Vs. Jason X (2006); Friday the 13th: Fearbook (2006); Friday the 13th: How I Spent My Summer Vacation (2007); Friday the 13th (2007); Friday the 13th: Bad Land (2008); Friday the 13th: Abuser and the Abused (2008)
The Hunt and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Craig Zobel
Boy does this movie want us to think it has a chip on its shoulder! I haven’t seen negative review quotes used this liberally since Freddy Got Fingered, which… okay, that might actually be a good sign because I do like that movie purely on its utter absurdity (THIS IS A FANCY RESTAURANT!!), but is not the usual calling card of studio confident in a film on its own merits. Then again I can’t imagine Universal having any other bright ideas after the thing got pulled from theaters and certain segments of the media decided that THIS was the thing that’s going to destroy the fabric of our society. Personally, I think we already got that film with London Has Fallen, but whatever it is that hyped this movie up so much, is there any way that it can live up to those expectations? Let’s find out!!
A bunch of people wake up in the middle of a field with no idea where they are or how they go there. They start to slowly move towards the center of this big field with a giant crate right in the middle that contains a whole lot of weapons and a pig for some reasons; the implications of which they don’t have long to ponder because they are immediately beset by gunfire, booby traps, and all manner of lethal armaments! Some of them seem to carry themselves well enough (Betty Gilpin) while others are showing themselves to be MASSIVE jerks (Ike Barinholtz) who may or may not have it coming for various reasons; the least of which being that they’re in a horror movie and that’s usually the way things go. Eventually though, it’s revealed that their attackers are a bunch of liberal yuppie yahoos (including but not limited to Glenn Howerton and Hillary Swank) who seem to be taking their 2016 frustrations out on a bunch of red necks and scumbags through a game facilitated by their massive wealth. Is this all just one big excuse for that whole class warfare thing I’ve been hearing about to become literal, or is there more going on than what we’re initially led to believe? Is this like Saw where the main villain has justifiable reasons for taking these people prisoner, or is it like Saw 4 where things just get ridiculous and asinine for no good reason? Seriously, is it POSSIBLE for Ike Barinholtz to not be a scumbag in everything he plays? I’d give fifty-fifty odds on some rich fool actually BELIEVING this guy to be monster and throw him in one these death games for real!
The Invisible Man and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Leigh Whannell
You know what movies I should really get around to? The Hollow Man films. I don’t know much about them other than they’re about a REALLY creep dude who becomes invisible, but it seems like that idea is alive and well in this which I guess you could call… a reboot? I mean I WISH it was part of the Dark Universe and that that was still a thing, but whatever you want to call this latest spin on the formula from Universal AND my often beloved but frequently beloathed Blumhouse, it’s certainly a film that’s caught my attention! Personally, I’m REALLY excited for this as the trailer looked very good (if a bit too revealing ironically enough) and frankly it looked like the kind of sequel to The Boy that we should have had instead of whatever the heck Brahms 2: Boy Harder was supposed to be. Not only that but with this season being such a bad time for horror movies including Blumhouse’s OTHER reboot from two weeks ago, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Does 2020 finally have a mainstream horror film that isn’t a total embarrassment to the genre, or is this another case of good marketing covering up a mediocre film? Let’s find out!!
Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) has been living with her boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) for some time now but has finally decided to leave him due to his controlling and abusive behavior in this relationship, and despite only doing so by the skin of her teeth she does manage to escape with the help of her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) and starts living with her friend James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid). Still, the road to recovery is a long one and despite not living under his roof anymore she still can’t shake the feeling that he’s around every corner and will find a way to ruin her life; especially since he’s some big shot genius scientist who promised to do just that if she ever left. However, good news arrives as Cecilia learns that Adrian is dead and she will inherit a huge chunk of money in the process! Everything’s starting to look up now… except that strange things keep happening around the house. Did she leave the oven on? Was that knife on the floor before? Is someone taking pictures of her while she’s sleeping? As these strange occurrences start to escalate, it becomes clear to Cecilia that Adrian MUST still be alive and that he found some way to turn invisible using his some sort of super science which admittedly sounds a bit out there as far as explanations go, but considering the title of this movie I think it’s right on the money. Will Cecilia be able to stop Adrian from running her life from beyond the grave? Will anyone believe her story, especially when the strange occurrences get more and more violent and people are starting to suspect her of being behind them? How the heck did he turn himself invisible anyway!? Super reflective body paint!?
Brahms: The Boy II and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by William Brent Bell
You’re unlikely to find a bigger cheerleader for The Boy than me, so when the trailers started coming out for this sequel four years after everyone else had forgotten about it AND it looked like a truly awful mess, well let’s just say that my spirits weren’t very high for this. Seriously, that bit where Katie Holmes makes a face in the trailer and they play the clichéd horror movie sting is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in something allegedly trying to sell you on a movie, and it was so disappointing to see how little they seemed to care about this considering just how good the first one was! I guess getting excited for horror sequels is in and of itself a fool’s errand, but who knows what it’ll REALLY be like before we get a chance to see it. Maybe there are some hidden depths to this that the studio was scared to give away in the trailers, much like the first film, and this is truly worth successor! Yeah, I’m doubtful as well but let’s find out!!
Taking place sometime after the events of the first film, we follow Liza (Katie Holmes) and her son Jude (Christopher Convery) who had a traumatic experience with a break in; leaving her with headaches and night terrors while Jude became mute and now communicates with a notebook. In an effort to try and get them past this, the father and husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) decides to take them on a trip to someplace out in the country where they can get away from it all and reconnect as a family! As it just so happens however, the place they decide to stay in is a hereto unknown guest house (ugh…) of the mansion from the first film, and said mansion has fallen into disrepair under the new owner Joseph (Ralph Ineson) who’s been trying to fix it up but can only do so much as one guy. Of course, Jude ends up finding the Brahms doll somewhere and IMMEDIATELY attaches himself to it which seems to at least be doing a good job of opening him up a bit, but it comes with other weird behaviors and a set of rules that must be followed or else the doll will get very cross with them. Liza’s naturally worried about all this and isn’t helped by her ghastly nightmares of the break in, but Sean isn’t exactly convinced the doll is evil (just a little bit creepy) and believes that Liza is overacting despite the many strange things that start to happen around the guesthouse and Jude’s increasingly bizarre behavior. Is there some secret to the doll that wasn’t in the last film that Liza must uncover in this one? Is Jude being manipulated by whatever it was in the last film, or is there something else that’s terrifying this family? I’m not even sure why they’re friends to be honest. Doesn’t seem like they’d have a lot in common.
Fantasy Island and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Jeff Wadlow
The only thing I know about the TV show is that it had Khan from Star Trek and Nick Nack from The Man with the Golden Gun, but even still turning it into a horror film seems like a dubious prospect at best. What, there weren’t enough Twilight Zone episodes to adapt or Creepshow sequels to pump out that we have to now start reaching for non-horror properties to try and squeeze out yet another February horror film? I mean I guess it COULD be good! Stranger things have happened, certainly. Is this brilliant reinterpretation of a classic seventies television show, or were we better off with Wild Wild West being the most embarrassing remake of a TV series from that era? Let’s find out!!
Gwen, Patrick, JD, Brax, and Melanie (Maggie Q, Austin Stowell, Ryan Hansen, Jimmy O Yang, and Lucy Hale) have all won a free trip to the mysterious FANTASY ISLAND which is run by the equally mysterious Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) who is known for his also equally mysterious ability to grant your greatest fantasy while visiting the island! For JD and Brax, they want to party like rock stars, for Gwen she wants to get back what she’s lost, for Patrick he wants to be a solider, and for Melanie she wants to get revenge on her school bully. All of which are simple enough to fulfill for the enigmatic Mr. Roarke, but as the fantasies come to fruition there are monkey paw style twists and turns that make their visit not quite as spectacular as they had hoped they would be; particularly when spooky and outright dangerous stuff begins to happen. They must somehow work through their own turbulent fantasies and eventually with each other to stop whatever dark fate is expected to befall them and to find out the secret of the island as well as Mr. Roarke’s uncanny power. Can this rag tag group of nobodies who may or may not have some sort of dark past figure out a way to escape the island in one piece? What exactly is Mr. Roarke’s end goal here, and are there some dark secrets in his closet as well? If my fantasy was to have unlimited fantasies, would he have to find a way to make that work?
Gretel & Hansel and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Oz Perkins
Sigh… a gritty reboot of the Hansel & Gretel? Did you happened to catch that tagline; A GRIM Fairy Tale? Yeah, something tells me this isn’t going to be good, AND YET there has been a decent amount of buzz surrounding this which surprised the heck out of me! It’s not like February has a much better reputation for movies than January does, especially when it comes to horror, so if they really did have something here wouldn’t they have saved it for a better time? I don’t know, maybe studios think that Get Out being the exception to this rule means it’s the new strategic time slot for quick horror bucks. In any case, is this the surprise gem that people having been saying it is, or is this yet another chance for me to be a Grumpy Gus at a mediocre horror film? Let’s find out!!
You know the story of Hansel & Gretel? Well then you know the story of Gretel & Hansel! Two kids are kicked out of their home because medieval times sucked for the working class and they get taken in by a witch who gives them food but has a hidden agenda. Naturally there’s more to it, but it’s all about adding details than going off and doing its own thing as Gretel (Sophia Lillis) is the older sister taking care of her younger brother (Sam Leakey) and the witch (Alice Krige) is a more complicated presence in the movie. At first she appears to be benevolent if a bit cagey as she not only feeds the kids bellies but their minds as well with meaningful chores, games of chess, and even teaching the little boy how to sharpen an axe so he can live out his dream of being a woodcutter. Hey, at least it’s better than being a YouTuber or god help us a Twitch Streamer! As the two stay at the house and learn more about her as well as the history of this house, things might just be going in a sinister direction that will force them to flee for their lives or perhaps it’s all a giant misunderstanding and they will end up being the aggressors in this story against an innocent and charitable older woman. Will Gretel and Hansel become victims of a scheme that the witch is COOKING up for them? Will Gretel perhaps be tempted down a dark path by the small TASTE of magic that the witch offers to her from time to time? Do I have THYME to do OLIVE the food puns in the world before I get to the TOAST POINT!?