Michael Dougherty’s “Trick r Treat” is a contemporary success story that’s enamored horror fans for a long time. Originally in 2007, Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology was kicked around various studios, pushed back, and shelved. When it finally re-emerged, it was pushed to a DVD release on 2009. Once unleashed on the fan base, it began life as a hidden gem, and has grown to become a bonafide horror classic, almost universally praised. To boot, “Trick r Treat’s” mascot, the burlap sack wearing, jagged lollipop adorning Sam has become one of the modern horror icons, whose bred a legion of fans (as well as a slew of merchandise).
Once upon a time TV movies were an event. They meant something. They were used sporadically during the year for various networks as a means of attracting big ratings. Once upon a time TV used TV movies as a means of competing with theaters, and ever since that’s become something of a lost medium. Even when I was a kid, the nineties were filled with TV movies both of the Stephen King multi-night variety, and occasional biblical epics, and or science fiction epics like “Taken,” or “Noah.” It was an interesting time. “Dead of Night” is one of the various TV movies that’s gone from TV movie to well acclaimed horror movie, and that might be because of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson.
It makes sense that Shout Factory would package “Tales from the Crypt” with “Vault of Horror” since both horror films are essentially a part of the same universe, and are adapted from the genius EC Comics brand. In “Vault of Horror” you can even see one of the characters sit beside a stack of EC Comics while turning to continue reading a “Tales from the Crypt” novel. It’s a good thing too since both films are stellar horror anthologies, practicing the tradition of EC Comics’ storytelling formula that involves revenge, irony, plot twists, and turning the tables on characters at every turn. If you can spare the time, these films deserve to be viewed as a double bill, because it’s a master class of storytelling and creeps.
Written by Larry Blamire and Kyle Rankin with the latter also directing, The Witch Files is a coming-of-age story for pre-teens and teens with a penchant for the dark side. The film takes an approach a la The Craft but lite as it has a few more girls who are younger and who don’t turn quite as dark as the original teen coven of the 90s. The writing is decent here and the direction does well for the story. However, it does feel its budget throughout the film as it is definitely limiting the scope of things, or at least it feels like such. Within this scope however, the film is somewhat entertaining and will most likely hit the right notes with tween and teen girls.
With a Jeremy Saulnier movie there’s always the feeling of hopelessness and existential dread. Saulnier is a man who doesn’t let his characters or his audience off easily, opting for narratives that explore the bleakness of life, and how remorseless human beings can be. With “Blue Ruin” and “Green Room,” Saulnier kept the audience in a choke hold and didn’t relent until the end credits, and he continues that tradition with “Hold The Dark” a flawed but stellar thriller about the darkness in the human soul and how it easily connects with the darkness of the wild. “Hold the Dark” is about the darkest and bleakest film Saulnier has yet to deliver to fans, because his new cinematic offering relies on slow mounting terror and inherent menace.
In the early 1980s, a man’s goes on a rampage to find his loved one’s killers after dealing with loss, grief and its many stages most definitely including anger. His love for her was all encompassing and nothing will come in the way of his revenge, not even demons.
Based on a story by Panos Cosmatos who co-wrote with Aaron Stewart-Ahn and directed, Mandy is a mayhem-y film that starts mellow and filled with love. It takes its time setting up the relationship and care between Red and Mandy before Mandy gets dispatched, making her someone the viewer can care about and can be attached to before she gets killed. This does also mean that it feels a bit long in the first part before Red gets through his grief and to his revenge. That being said, when the revenge begins, it goes full force, balls to the wall, insane. The film’s last third or so is blood-soaked violent goodness where every and all tools can become a murder weapon that makes a ton of damage.
Panos Cosmatos’ “Mandy” will be a film that not everyone will click in to. What could be a typical revenge thriller about a man avenging his wife is transformed in to a brilliant and mesmerizing trip in to insanity and literal hell. We know so little about Nicolas Cage’s character, but once he’s lost everything in his life, he descends in to a madness and hellfire that’s both horrifying and awe inspiring. Every single frame of “Mandy” is a mind blowing moving painting, one filled with vast colors and shades. The world Red and Mandy share is so vast, but is set just for them and them alone.
Corealie Fargeat’s “Revenge” is kind a new chapter in the rape revenge sub-genre of thrillers and horror films. It deconstructs an often very controversial and polarizing sub-genre to make it less about the exploitation of women and more about the empowerment of a woman who even views herself as a sex object when we meet her. “Revenge” is a grueling film to endure, but one that is also quite fantastic in its imagery and depiction of men as less cunning sexual predators and more slimy snakes that prey on a woman who proves she is a pure force of vengeance to be reckoned with.