Sunday, November 24, 2019

2019, A Film Odyssey: Creep Shows

This is Us

This year's hits you may have missed, flops that you should avoid, hidden gems to discover and more, plus where to watch 'em...

Halloween may be over but there's still time to catch up on the scary movies of 2019:

Velvet Buzzsaw (now streaming on Netflix):
An art world satire crossed with a "curse from beyond the grave" fright flick makes this sound like the snobbiest episode of Night Gallery ever, yet it never quite achieves the camp and/or scare level one imagines from such a possibility. Jake Gyllenhaal is delicious though as the bitchy "Morf Vandewait", a bisexual critic who at one point wears nothing but a laptop. (4/10)

Us (now streaming on HBO):
Jordan Peele's follow up to his Oscar-winning Get Out dives deep into its dark mythology... that somehow connects to Hands Across America?? You won't be able to take your eyes off of Lupita Nyong'o as two sides of the same coin, but the creepy premise just gets more and more preposterous and the results less and less satisfying as every twist is unveiled. Maybe less is more next time, Jordan? (6/10)

The Hole in the Ground (now streaming on Amazon Prime):
After a single mother is reunited with her young son who disappeared mysteriously she begins to notice that there's something... odd about him, as if he was a totally different person. Yes, it's the plot to Clint Eastwood's Changeling, but this here is a horror movie so there is an actual changeling involved. An average allegory of the perils of parental paranoia enhanced slightly by its cold Irish setting. (5/10)

Happy Death Day 2U (now streaming on HBO):
The absurdly named final girl Tree Gelbman is back for this slasher sequel that takes the clever Groundhog Day-ness of its predecessor and morphs it into a sci-fi quagmire of parallel universes where the relentless Babyface killer is still offing co-eds (some things never change). Requiring one to be far too versed on the minutiae of the first film, 2U ultimately drags the original down with it. (4/10)

Little Monsters (now streaming on Hulu):
Who knew that Lupita Nyong'o would be Miss Scream Queen 2019? She gamely headlines this Aussie indie as Miss Caroline, a devoted kindergarten teacher who goes from warbling Taylor Swift tunes to wielding a shovel to protect her adorable charges when a zombie outbreak interrupts their field trip. It bites off more than it can chew, yes, but it's a charming addition to the ranks of ZomRomComs. (6/10)

Midsommar (now available on Blu-ray and DVD):
If Ari Aster's Hereditary kept you up nights then his sophomore effort will make you never want to see the inside of your eyelids ever again. Deeply disturbing images, most displayed frankly in the harsh glare of sunlight against the backdrop of an idyllic Swedish countryside, abound in this millennial fever dream about a college trip gone horribly, horribly wrong. Aster is a bit self-indulgent with the slow burn, and he curiously takes on another "batshit crazy death cult" tale in just his second feature, but you'll never forget what you see here and will likely never want to see it again (in this case, that's a compliment). (8/10)

A Midsommar Nightmare

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

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