February has arrived! And it brought along a pretty full slate of horror movies. This month we’ve got some impressive and hyped films, like A Cure for Wellness, Get Out, and XX. We’ve got Rings, which Paramount Pictures really wants to be a hit but actually looks convoluted and unintentionally hilarious. There’s also The Girl with All the Gifts, an adaptation of the 2014 bestselling zombie novel, and the normal amount of indie horror films that may or may not be worth your time.

Check them out!

February 3, 2017

  1. Rings

“A young woman becomes worried about her boyfriend when he explores a dark subculture surrounding a mysterious videotape said to kill the watcher seven days after he has viewed it. She sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and in doing so makes a horrifying discovery: there is a movie within the movie that no one has ever seen before.”

Oh man, this trailer is too much!

This kind of thing happens to horror movie sequels all the time—instead of properly developing the story past the original movie, filmmakers just start throwing new shit into the mix while recreating certain scenes from the original.

Like, this trailer starts off alright. At first it seems like an updated version of the first Rings movie. But then (!) things veer off into absurdity! Not only does the movie still have the video and the phone call and the gross creepy bits from the original, but now there are 1) burns that spell out messages in braille, 2) a large ringworm mark, 3) Vincent D’nofrio, 4) diseased flesh fusing together, 5) Samara hauntings, and most importantly, 6) Samara’s video featured as the inflight entertainment on a plane!

It’s too much!!! She comes out of the plane’s control panel? I CANNOT LMAO. I could not stop laughing. I don’t know why that was so hilarious, but I started cracking up and it kind of ruined everything for me.

Every unnecessary component of this remake…why? Why does the film need the curse to have evolved so much? It’s already scary, you don’t need to add more. This isn’t how you one-up the original.

 

  1. Don’t Knock Twice (Limited)

“When a mother, desperate to reconnect with the daughter she abandoned, becomes embroiled in the urban legend of a demonic witch, she must go further than she ever imagined possible to win back her child.”

Perhaps it’s the super dramatic and jumpy cut of the trailer, but I don’t get a great feeling about this movie’s quality. I want to believe this has potential. I love witches. I love when movies take terrifying childhood legends and render them real. I love that shot of the witch’s hands rising out of the sink, because I’ve had that exact nightmare before.

But I’m not sure. It looks a little hooky, a little middling. Don’t Knock Twice could be an unexpected surprise, or it could just be the same kind of mediocre horror we’re used to.

 

  1. Eloise (Limited)

“A psychological thriller set in an abandoned insane asylum known as Eloise. Four friends break in with the intention of finding a death certificate that could land Jacob the rights to a hefty inheritance. While inside, the friends discover the terrifying history of the asylum and the truth about their own pasts.”

That’s where Chase Crawford, Eliza Dushku, and Robert Patrick have been hiding!

Hand to God, I thought this trailer would be a lot worse just going off the synopsis. Do you remember a couple years back when insane asylum horror was all the rage? I got so burned out. It’s a de facto cool premise, because real-life insane asylums were horrifying, but good Lord that subgenre was run into the ground. Again. And again.

That being said, this trailer is a mix of insane asylum cliché and an actual interesting plot point. I have a psychology degree and instantly recognized the crazy doctor’s treatment technique as exposure therapy. This is approach derives from a cognitive-behavioral ideology where the patient is gradually and carefully exposed to his fears. I am intrigued by that part of the movie and how the doctor is, obviously, not using it correctly.

Is it enough to save the rest of the movie? I don’t know.

 

 

February 10, 2017

  1. Havenhurst (Limited)

“Jackie, a troubled young woman struggling with addiction, is released from rehab and given a second chance with a new job and a furnished apartment at Havenhurst. Guilt-ridden over the loss of her 8-year-old daughter, Jackie is quickly drawn into the mysteries of Havenhurst, in particular the disappearance of apartment 1006’s previous lost soul, a young woman she befriended in rehab who vanished without a trace. Aided by a hardened New York police detective and a lonely foster child who lives under the sadistic shadow of her caretakers, Jackie must not only battle her inner demons… but the very real ones that live within the walls of Havenhurst.”

I feel like I’ve seen this movie a million times. I get it; horror movies set in apartments are ripe with meaning and resonance because so many people live in close quarters with complete strangers. It’s hard to set and maintain boundaries, which creates a certain amount of uneasiness, which lends itself easily to horror. Think Dark Water, Rec, Apartment 1303, and of course, Rosemary’s Baby, among the greats.

I guess that’s my problem with this trailer—it doesn’t convince me that this movie will offer anything new or refreshing. A sinister rich old lady owns a gothic apartment building with dark corners and secrets? Yawn. Give me something else.

 

 

February 17, 2017

  1. A Cure for Wellness

“An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.”

AAAAAAHHHHHHH I’m so excited! By now y’all know I’m really into psychological horror: the uncertainty of the main character’s own experiences, the foreboding tone, the twisted “spa treatments” that may or may not work, depending on what your goal is. Literally every person in this trailer looks a little bit…off, and coupled with the disturbing imagery (eels! EELS!) and invasive medical procedures, I think A Cure for Wellness will make for a genuinely unsettling experience.

There are a lot of people talking about how this movie is a hybrid of Shutter Island and Bioshock, and how that may not bode well for this film. I’m going to reserve judgment. At the very least, I think the visuals will be reason enough to see this movie.

 

  1. XX (Limited)

“XX is a new horror anthology with a gender twist – all segments will be helmed by female directors and will star female leads. The directors have been given free creative rein within budget and time constraints, but all of the segments themselves will involve the horror genre.”

I’ve been waiting for this horror anthology for a long time! Horror anthologies in general have only gotten better over the past few years, and I hope that XX follows that trend. News out of the Sundance Film Festival has been positive (though none of the films are perfect).

I’m particularly swayed by this quote from The Hollywood Reporter, “The best thing about this project is that in the genre realm of the final girl, each story features a female protagonist facing unique fears beyond scream-and-die victimhood, in one case becoming the vessel of carnage herself.”

Gimme!

 

 

February 24, 2017

  1. Get Out

“Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.”

Finally, this movie comes out! Key & Peele was one of my favorite shows of the last few years. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were gifted, both in their physical comedy and their uncanny ability to combine humor with biting social criticism. I was so sad when the show ended in 2015.

But now that I see what Jordan Peele has been working on during that time, I’m stoked! Peele is a huge horror movie fan, and drew upon his favorites Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives to write and direct Get Out, which tackles issues of race in this country. I think that’s brilliant. Both Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives were about the pressures society forces upon women, pushing them into certain roles and punishing them when they don’t comply. Get Out has tons to work with here and can provoke an important conversation about race. It’s even better that this film was written and directed by a black man, whereas Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives were not written by women.

Add in that Get Out is getting rave reviews, and I think Get Out will prove to be one of the most significant horror movies of the year.

 

  1. The Girl with all the Gifts (Limited)

“In the future, a strange fungus has changed nearly everyone into a thoughtless, flesh-eating monster. When a scientist and a teacher find a girl who seems to be immune to the fungus, they all begin a journey to save humanity.”

This may not be the star of February horror movies, but I for one want to see this movie. I was a fan of the book and I greatly appreciated how M.R. Carey approached his zombie novel. Instead of focusing on the outbreak, The Girl with All the Gifts focuses on the remaining uninfected as they struggle to find a cure and survive in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. By the time the story picks up, it’s been twenty years since the outbreak. All the people who have survived until this point are, as expected, traumatized and hardened. They cling to the old ways of human civilization as much as they can, but things are irrevocably different now.

I hope The Girl with All the Gifts will successfully breathe life into the zombie subgenre, which has stagnated a bit over the years. Not every movie can give us the zombie outbreak like Night of the Living Dead or 28 Days Later, but not every movie has should.

 

  1. Drifter (Limited)

“A pair of outlaw brothers are held captive in a desolate town run by a small family of psychotic cannibalistic lunatics and their sadistic Mayor.”

This looks a little bit like what would happen if Rob Zombie directed a Mad Max movie. I guess that’s a surprising combination, and when I think about it, I’m kind of shocked we haven’t seen more Mad Max-esque horror movies. Though I’m sure someone is furiously planning that exact movie as I write this (it’s probably Rob Zombie).

These types of horror movies are hardly my cup of tea, and if I’m being totally honest, Drifter doesn’t look inventive or good enough to convince me otherwise. But I’m sure it’s entertaining, and fans of these types of horror movies will probably like it just fine.

 

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