Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dearest Review: This is Halloween, Part 1

With trick or treat time looming at the end of the month, October is always a good time to catch up on all the latest fright flicks and this year is no different, with a bumper crop of spook fests so far, enough in fact to merit this two-part review… 

M. Night Shyamalan acquits himself quite well from the likes of his The Happening and Lady in the Water with this taut thriller as tightly wound as its protagonist, a man inflicted with a horde of multiple personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls in a plot that is gradually revealed to be a lot more insidious than one at first expects. Shyamalan is famous (infamous?) for his twists, and Split has its fair share but here they serve the story instead of supplanting it. James McAvoy is simply mesmerizing in a career best role that has him switching from persona to persona, such as a lisping preadolescent boy to a stern English matron and back again; in a just world he would be seriously considered for Best Actor accolades in the impending award season (along with Betty Buckley, in strong support as his psychiatrist), but the film’s genre trappings may hamper that possibility. (7/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

"Nope. Not gonna happen."

Imagine that the answer to “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was “The Stepford Wives and you’ll have a good idea about the plot of Get Out, TV funnyman Jordan Peele’s twisted directorial debut that was equally embraced by both critics and audiences alike earlier this year. Daniel Kaluuya stars as the boyfriend of a white woman (Allison Williams) who takes him home to meet her parents (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) only to find himself in a nightmarish situation where the only thing creepier than the black people he meets are the even creepier white people. Race plays a significant role in Get Out, which prompted pundits to fall over themselves to pile praise on Peele for his modern take on horror movie tropes. Yet don’t let all that hype set your expectations too high; at the end of the day, this is simply a smart and stylish scary movie. (7/10) Now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

...not creepy at all...

If you ever wondered how The Omen would play as a comedy, has Netflix got the movie for you. Adam Scott plays Gary, the lucky guy newly married to Evangeline Lilly… and the unlucky guy to be the new stepfather to Lucas, a pasty young tyke dressed all in black with a penchant for leaving disaster in his wake, such as impaled science teachers and charbroiled party clowns. As a horror film its light on scares and it often feels like a slightly off-brand Halloween-themed Hallmark Channel movie. What sets Little Evil apart and makes it watchable is the unconventional character Al, Gary’s co-worker and fellow stepdad played by… actress Bridget Everett. How’s that for progress? Not only do we have a gender nonconforming character that is a non-issue, they also help save the world from a satanic cult led by Clancy Brown and Sally Field (in the Ruth Gordon role). (6/10) Now streamingon Netflix.

Just one of the guys.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Following some kind of apocalyptic event, a small group of survivors hunker down in an isolated location where they must defend themselves from their new mortal enemy: their fellow man. Bleak nihilism saturates every frame of It Comes at Night, which relentlessly teases some sort of… paranormal?... extraterrestrial?... hillbilly??? threat that never appears, at night or otherwise. If that weren’t enough to send writer/director Trey Edward Shults to horror movie jail, than the multiple “oh wait, that was only a dream” fake-outs will. With its overly-familiar premise, incredibly unlikeable characters and especially its “fuck you, audience” ending, It Comes at Night can just go away. (2/10) Now available onDVD and Blu-ray.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.

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