The Unholy

The Unholy is a throwback to horror movies from the Seventies, like The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror.  Its present day inspiration would be the Conjuring movies, with their focus on normal, everyday people confronting evil from a Christian perspective.  Unlike the Conjuring movies, The Unholy takes a more humanistic approach for most of its running time, focusing more on the characters trying to understand the mysterious events happening around them and less on evil beings and bombastic displays of satanic power. Its message of mistaking evil for the divine is a timely one. Recommended.

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Come Play

“Once you take Larry’s hand, you’ll never be alone again.”

Misunderstood Monsters

Come Play is a very effective low-fi scare movie.  The movie is the first I’ve seen where the haunted is portrayed as autistic.  Oliver is a young autistic boy who has unwittingly attracted the attention of Larry, a ghoul from another dimension.  Larry wants Oliver to be his friend, and creates a picture book that, when someone reads it to the end, allows Larry to cross over into our world.  As Horror movie hooks go, the one used by Come Play is as incredulous as any other.  What elevates this movie above others is its excellent pacing, realistic direction and solid acting.  Similar to Insidious and Lights Out, what you don’t see is scarier than what you actually see.  Highly recommended.

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Freaky (2020)

Too bad Freaky couldn’t have called itself “Freaky Friday the 13th”, since that’s basically the concept behind the movie.  Freaky is a mashup of slasher movies (Friday the 13th, Halloween) and body swapping movies (Freaky Friday, Big).  The combination of those two genres proves to be an original and rewarding one, producing scares, gross-out moments, tender moments and plenty of laughs.  Highly recommended.

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The Rental

Horror movies, in particular slasher movies, are known for their efficiency.  Introduce the soon-to-be-victims with some threadbare character traits, each having some a combination of obliviousness, stupidity, narcissism and hornyness, provide a remote setting where the victims can be seen with their negative character traits on display, then introduce a weapon-wielding maniac to mete out justice on the victims for being generally bad people.  These movies put us in the position of rooting for the killer, because only he (sometimes she) can save us from spending one more minute with the victims, who are too annoying and oversexed for their own good.

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The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)

The Haunting of Hill House, released on Netflix in 2018, was regarded as both a commercial and critical success.  The series was a retelling of the novel by Shirley Jackson published in 1959.  While two movies based on the novel have been released (the 1963 being far superior to the 1999 version), the Netflix series felt fresh due to a new take on the material, one which retained the scary elements at its core, but moved the story to a modern setting and tweaked the plot in ways that defied expectations.

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Doctor Sleep (2019)

On paper, making a movie out of Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining probably sounded like an excellent idea.  Both the original novel and the sequel were best-sellers.  The movie (released in 1980) remains one of the most iconic adaptations of his books, alongside Carrie, The Dead Zone, Salem’s Lot, Cujo, Christine.  King has long been on record as hating Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of his novel, to the point where he approved a mini-series adaptation that was broadcast in 1997.  While much more faithful to the novel, most people still tend to point to Kubrick’s version as the definitive version.

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The Hunt (2020)

“The most controversial movie of the year!”

The “controversy” surrounding this movie was manufactured by the president himself, who dissed the movie in an angry tweet.  I doubt he watched this movie himself, and instead relied on his handlers to confirm how awfully it treats his beloved red-staters.  Those evil Hollywood liberal elites!  Damn them!  Damn them all to hell!

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