It’s a shame that “Prey at Night,” the long awaited sequel to “The Strangers” hit like a thud in 2018, because it sure is a top notch follow up to the atmospheric original we saw a decade ago. Where as the original was more an homage to the Manson family murders, “Prey at Night” is a slick hodgepodge of slasher and thriller nods and winks that paint our trio of Sack Face, Pin Up Girl, and Baby Doll as more aggressive individuals that spend less time tenderizing their victims before they go in for the ultimate kill.
Director Bryan Bertino’s horror debut is a masterful thriller about the presence of pure evil and the relentlessness of it. Some of the best horror villains of all time are those without much conscience or logic, and the trio of killers that stalk a hapless pair of married people in “The Strangers” are almost horror incarnate. While “The Strangers” is based on the whole Manson Family murders, truthfully it pits its focus on how purely evil humanity can be. Even when obscured by masks, the trio of stalkers prominently featured is human down to the core, acting without much rhyme or reason.
It’s pretty tough to find a good Bigfoot horror film these days, and whenever one really good title for the subgenre comes along, you have to hold on to it and appreciate it. Ryan Schifrin’s “Abominable” is a fantastic entry in to the sub-genre that takes Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” injects a little lunacy, and rather than Raymond Burr, we have a hairy, vicious, super strong abominable snowman terrorizing a group of girls. While on paper that sounds like the formula for a potentially silly movie, “Abominable” is stellar. It’s creepy, darkly funny, gory, and has one of the best final scenes I’ve ever seen in a horror movie, barnone.
It’s a tough task to take a short film and stretch it in to a feature length adaptation worthy of the original concept. Often it can fail and other times if we’re lucky, we can end up with something pretty special. Thankfully “Cargo” falls in to the latter category, as it’s a touching, heartbreaking and eerie tale, about finding hope when all hope is lost. The original Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling short film “Cargo” is one of my favorite independent short films of all time, and the team of Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling thankfully keep in touch with the original short’s idea of a dad trying to give his daughter a second chance in a horrible world, while also expanding on the premise.
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.
Ted Geoghegan’s “Mohawk” is stellar and a very timely commentary on colonialism, manifest destiny, and the last gasp of what would become a slain race in the middle of a pointless war in 1814. “Mohawk” has a very unusual aesthetic to it, approaching audiences with a unique score, some great digital photography, and a tone that’s right down the line between horror and action. It has a lot to say about the unfair and cruel destruction of the Native American race, with an enemy we all have learned about but still known very little thanks to revisionist history.
After suffering a major identity crisis for the last three seasons, “Fear the Walking Dead” finally finds it footing. By throwing everything it’s established out and keeping only a few main characters here and there. What began as an urban retelling of the zombie apocalypse involving two families, the Manawas and the Clarks, is now really nothing more an immigration allegory with characters basically bumping back and forth. “Fear the Walking Dead” managed to have the opportunity to really unfold an epic tale of a mixed race family, and how they learned to get along with get to know each other. Their mixed and uneasy union would have to be tested. Except, all we get is a lot of goofy switches of the premise, and wastes of some good characters.