Haunt (2019) [Blu-Ray]

Scott Beck and Bryan Woods’ horror film is like one big Halloween treat that comes at just the right time. It’s a novelty, it’s occasionally silly, but it’s also extra creepy in that it takes much of its menace from the inherent dangers of Halloween that lurk in every corner of the holiday. “Haunt” isn’t particularly original, but when you get down to the meat and potatoes, it’s surely a lot of fun and garners shockingly empathetic protagonists, all of whom are never let off the hook from the moment they enter the danger of this enigmatic haunt.

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Vampires vs. The Bronx (2020)

While many of the influences for SNL are apparent, director-writer Oz Rodriguez has a great eye for unfolding some great horror that’s absolutely entertaining but also socially conscious (like his contemporary Jordan Peele). “Vampires vs. The Bronx” is a surefire amalgam of “The Lost Boys” and “Attack the Block.” It’s a creepy, fun, horror flick with an all Latinx and African American cast that’s also very clear cut condemnation of gentrification.

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Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

The “Slumber Party Massacre” movie series has never really been too much of a straight faced horror movie franchise. The original film is a dark, silly bit of slasher fodder that is famous mainly for its title. The sequel from Deborah Brock basically takes the whole series in a direction that’s bizarre, completely unusual, and borrows very much from 1985’s “Freddy’s Revenge” with its strong and blatant LGBTQ overtones.

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Murder in the Woods (2020)

I love the fact that with the accessibility of filmmaking with modern technology, that more filmmakers are trying to give us different perspectives. With “Murder in the Woods” it’s one in many efforts to give us the classic genre horror fixes with different kinds of characters. This time around the Latinx characters aren’t tokens, but the actual protagonists fighting against the film’s villain.

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“The Lost Boys” and the Allegory of the Male Role Model

1987’s “The Lost Boys” is often examined as a film with heavy overtones of homoeroticism, and the idea of embracing the vampire mythology in a broader scope. It somewhat re-invented vampires, and even influenced many a creator in modern vampire fare. One of the reasons why I absolutely adore “The Lost Boys,” among many others, is because of its commentary on male models and debasing the antiquated idea of the nuclear family. While “The Lost Boys” is a play on the term from “Peter Pan” about a group of boys that never age, the title is also a play on the recurring theme of male role models and lack thereof.

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Cuties (2020)

Where as a lot of teen movies focus much on the coming of age and rites of passage for young men through their sexuality, “Cuties” is ballsy enough to be cut from the same cloth. It’s a film that explores almost the same themes but in a more complex arena that’s based around femininity and growing up. While the silly ballyhoo around “Cuties” has been much ado about nothing, “Cuties” is a bold, important drama comedy. It’s ultimately about a young girl who is trying to figure out what kind of woman she wants to be, and never realizing that either route she chooses in life is going to be filled with obstacles, tough questions, and ultimately living with the path she’s chosen.

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Cool Summer (2020)

It’s not often I get an independent animated film for the blog and that’s probably for a good reason. Animation is long, and demanding, even if it’s essentially cheaper as a filmmaking medium. “Cool Summer” has its heart in the right place, and also has a good idea in its corner, it just needs so much work to be done from top to bottom, and much of the pitfalls narratively and production wise keep it from being great.

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Angelfish (2019)

Peter Lee’s “Angelfish” is a very good drama romance about two people with varying obligations and turmoil finding love with one another. Often times when it hits, it hits hard, but when it fails, it tends to ruin the momentum of the narrative and drag on for quite a while. Shocking enough, “Angelfish” can sometimes feel long in the tooth, if only because it often feels like it’s padding the narrative rather than using those opportunities to add more dimension between our characters Brendan and Eva. That said, even in its imperfections, Peter Lee’s Bronx set drama is engaging and often times emotional.

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