A coming-of-age story about a young gay boy whose mother marries through the mail order bride system to an American to give them both a better life. Once in America, the boy grows up questioning himself and life until he finds his place among his peers.
In a really crappy summer and a pretty hectic year in Hollywood, one of the bigger releases in 2021 was “In the Heights.” It’s a movie I’d been looking forward to for a long time, since Lin Manuel Miranda is one of my personal heroes. It’s finally brought to film by director Jon M. Chu after being in literal development hell since 2008. Jon M. Chu is no stranger to films involving dancing and urban settings, thankfully, and we’re given an absolutely dazzling, emotional, and energetic musical.
Writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti’s debut feature, The Last Thing Mary Saw is a horror drama that promises to be one of the most polarizing films of the year. It’s a return to the rising resurgence of folk horror much in the vein of “The Witch” and “Midsommar” but explores the more relevant ideas about religious oppression, sexual oppression, and the perils of the love between two young girls, which becomes increasingly dangerous over the course of the narrative.
Director Leigh Janiak’s creation of the “Fear Street” trilogy has to be one of the most impressive cinematic accomplishments this year. It’s tough to find a horror trilogy where every film feels different, but clicks together like a puzzle, so seamlessly. “Fear Street” had every chance of being a complete mess, especially with how it goes backward in time to fill in the gaps in its narrative. Not to mention the fact that it trusts audiences will return is ambitious and often impressive.
I think it is possible that director Taylor King has created one of my favorite indie films of the year. I didn’t entirely know what to expect going in to “Super Hot” but it ends up being such a great horror comedy, despite some small flaws here and there. “Super Hot” has its inspirations close to its chest, combining “Booksmart” with “The Craft” to form this unusual amalgam that works shockingly well.
Director Josh Ruben has a real knack for taking snowy tundras and creating some prime horror fodder with them. While I didn’t much care for “Scare Me,” he managed to build some interesting tension with just two people in a snowy cabin. With “Werewolves Within,” it’s a bit larger in scale, but still a fantastic peek in to an engaging mystery. Ruben’s film brilliantly mixes Agatha Christie with “The Beast Must Die,” and some of The Coens for good measure.
One of the many aspects of “Fear Street” that always set them apart from the “Goosebumps” books is that RL Stine relied a lot on folklore. With the “Fear Street” series, it depended a lot on the folklore and urban legend aesthetic, exploring more universal themes usually found there. There were always ideas about revenge, and mystery killers, and inherent terrifying nature of Halloween, and yes, even vampires. Fear Street always had something new to offer readers, and the movie carries that tradition.