The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Eli Roth has always been a better horror fan and film lover than actual filmmaker, and he’s proven it time and time again. After the embarrassing bomb that was “Death Wish,” I had hope that “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” would be a win and Roth would kind of re-invent himself. While not as awful as “Death Wish,” Roth proves once again he’s not too good at handling tone, pacing, and general direction. Without the thick icing of blood, grue, and torture to cover up the thinly layered cake that is “The House with a Clock in Its Walls,” Roth once again proves he’s a filmmaker that has so much to learn, and so much evolving to do.

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Luciferina (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A trainee nun, Natalia, goes home after an accident kills her mother and leaves her father dying. Once home, she discovers family secrets and goes on a self-discovery trip with friends. There she learns even more and puts her own soul at stake.

Writer/director Gonzalo Calzada takes the concepts of good versus bad, god versus evil, Catholic versus pagan, family, legacy, and destiny and plays with them in a dark realm tinged by demonic forces and curiosity. The story here is done in a way that works for its characters, letting them get exposed and built before throwing in the evil/demonic elements. Most of everything here works and goes towards creating a cohesive story and world. Some of the timeline and exposure may feel a bit off as it foes, but it all makes sense by the end. Calzada has a story here that he knows how to tell and he gets it out here on the screen in a way the viewer can easily watch, connect with, and be entertained by.

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The Predator (2018)

Somehow in the age of studios reviving remnants of the eighties and destroying them with convoluted mythology and narratives, “Predator” has been somewhat spared. Sure, it was involved with the “Alien” series for a bit, but it’s primarily stayed simplistic and true to the original film–unlike the “Terminator” and “Alien” movie series. “The Predator” is a movie that will likely divide fans of the original film and series as a whole; it’s filled with a ton of plot, an array of characters and is somewhat the antithesis of the original film’s more straight forward machismo based narrative. It also dares to expand on the mythos, should Shane Black be given another shot with a sequel.

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The Bad Seed (2018)

When Rob Lowe was originally approached about his remake of “The Bad Seed,” he commented that his film version is a drama more than a horror movie. While the original 1956 movie starring Patty McCormack was a horror movie with a dramatic tinge, by God Rob Lowe makes sure that his version of “The Bad Seed” is a drama. Even the unraveling of a parent realizing their child is a psychopath with only the goal of self preservation is painfully bent for the sake of drama, and less horror. Lowe fails, especially because the realization that their child is a psychopath with zero emotion should be a living nightmare. Not some kind of twist in a melodrama.

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You Have to See This! Perfect Blue (1997)

In Select U.S. Theaters September 6th & 10th via Fathom Events.

It’s amazing how prophetic Satoshi Kon’s “Perfect Blue” was back in 1997. Even though it was released at the beginning of the internet age, “Perfect Blue” is a very strong and still very relevant tale about rabid fandom, gate keeping, obsession, and the struggles to maintain one’s own sense of self and agency in a world where growing in one’s career means relinquishing our dignity and discretion. In a time where actresses are being chased and harassed off of social platforms, “Perfect Blue” conjures up so much interesting and familiar imagery and plot beats, and ultimately is about the cost of rabid fandom.

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Hunt for the Skinwalker (2018)

The mystery of the Skinwalker Ranch is one of my all time favorite paranormal mysteries right up there with the Hopkinsville Goblins. It’s a phenomenon that’s caught my attention over the last two years that’s left me absolutely gobsmacked and a tad bit obsessed to boot. I’ve looked up everything I can about this seemingly insignificant ranch land in the middle of Utah, because everything about it is fascinating. Whether it’s one elaborate hoax or one of the most incredible pieces of proof that the paranormal is a very real element of our world as we know it, people won’t soon forget the Skinwalker Ranch any time soon.

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Lifechanger (2018) [FrightFest 2018]

A shapeshifter is running through bodies faster and faster and must take extreme measures to keep surviving or let go of his own self.

Written and directed by Justin McConnell, Lifechanger is an exploration of mortality, letting go, love, and what people are willing to do to keep going without changes and what they are willing to accept to keep their lives on their preferred path. While the film is a horror film at its core, the story is about much more than the simple kills and shapeshifting, it’s about taking over lives, making one’s own life. The way this is approached creates a story that is easy to follow even with the switches in lead person and the multiple storylines. The film keeps everything in order and easily understandable. As the story advances and the lead narrates the story, the reasons for it all become clearer and they are not just for survival.

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The Happytime Murders (2018)

Director Brian Henson explained in an interview that he hopes the wrong audience doesn’t accidentally see “The Happytime Murders.” So I have to ask: Who is “The Happytime Murders” meant for? Who is the target audience here? It certainly has aroused the ire and vitriol of Muppets fans, horror fans mostly dislike it, and it has inspired nothing but groans and eye rolls from comedy movie buffs, so who is this movie for, anyway? Despite Henson’s best efforts to pad the wet thud that is “The Happytime Murders” by labeling it a “guilty pleasure,” you’d have a much better time putting socks on your hands and barking random expletives to yourself.

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