February hasn’t always been a strong month for horror. In fact, the early part of each year used to be seen as a dumping ground for meh movies for the entire film industry. And when it came to horror, a lot of those films were not really worth anyone’s time.
But thanks to the horror boom, which has revitalized the genre, we’re seeing interesting, high-profile horror releases year-round. This February is very strong, with splashy new horror movies straight from the festival circuit (Velvet Buzzsaw and Piercing), solid wide releases (The Prodigy and Happy Death Day 2U), and one VOD release that infuses the Frankenstein mythos with Jewish folklore (The Golem).
February also sees the release of an important and illuminating documentary, Horror Noire, about the historical role of black people both in horror films and behind the camera.
So yeah, February horror has a lot to offer. Enjoy!
Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix)
“After paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.”
I’ve talked about this movie quite a bit on the blog, what with it being one of my most anticipated horror movies of 2019 and a Sundance Film Festival feature. The trailer looks plenty intriguing, and the film itself has garnered positive to mixed reviews. Good thing Netflix has it right now so we can all see Jake Gyllenhaal be a snooty, full-of-shit art critic thrust into some artsy-fartsy surreal horror. I dig it.
“After kissing his wife and baby goodbye for a seemingly normal business trip, Reed checks himself into a hotel room to accomplish something he’s always dreamed of: the perfect murder. As his sinister plans unfold, he soon realizes he might be in over his head with a mysteriously unhinged call girl named Jackie.”
There’s nothing like a sexy horror-thriller about a psycho who meets his match. Seriously, what a fascinating concept! I’ve been meaning to read the novel that this film is based on for some time, but I might have to settle for the movie. And because it’s directed by Nicholas Pesce, who directed the incredibly intense horror film The Eyes of My Mother, I think it’s safe to say that Piercing will pack a punch.
The Golem (VOD)
“During an outbreak of a deadly plague, a mystical woman must save her tight-knit Jewish community from foreign invaders, but the entity she conjures to protect them is a far greater evil.”
One of the reviews for this film called it a “Jewish Frankenstein,” which sounds like a really blasé way of describing this film, but I kind of like it. I mean, the novel Frankenstein is a profound, poignant story of creation gone wrong, of trying to play God and unleashing forces one doesn’t understand. And despite Dr. Frankenstein being a man in the novel, Frankenstein has an undeniable female point of view. So I like the idea of incorporating Jewish lore (already so fertile and yet so under-utilized in horror) with a Frankenstein angle. Also, I love how this is a female-driven horror film!
The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead
“A water nymph falls in love with a woman’s fiancé and aims to keep him all to herself in her underwater kingdom, where she is cursed to spend eternity.”
Ah, man, this looks…over the top. Not in a good way. I want a scary mermaid movie, but one that’s actually good and not just a rehash of the La Llorona myth (and doesn’t have a million lame jump scares in the trailer and a tired creepy-child-voiceover-explaining-the-story bit).
“A look at the history of black horror films and the role of African Americans in the film genre from the very beginning.”
I’m very excited to watch this documentary! As a horror fan who believes in the narrative power of the genre, I feel like I must educate myself on the ways an entire race of people have been portrayed in American horror films, and how those depictions reflect our society. No doubt this will be a powerful documentary that will show white horror fans (like myself) what we’ve ignored and what we have to gain from allowing more black voices to create horror films.
“Sarah’s young son Miles’ disturbing behavior signals that an evil force has overtaken him. Fearing for her family’s safety, Sarah must grapple with her maternal instinct to protect Miles in favor of investigating what is causing his dark turn.”
So…now that I’ve had a child, creepy kids in horror movies are…scary now. Like, way more than they used to be. Don’t get me wrong—I think this movie still looks cheesy (despite the talent of Taylor Schilling, who at least looks like she’s trying). But damn if there isn’t a part of me that is effected by that super-cute kid being creepy and murderous.
The Amityville Murders
“Ronald DeFeo Jr. lives a seemingly normal and happy life in Long Island, N.Y., but soon hears mysterious voices that urge him to kill his parents and four siblings.”
STOP. MAKING. AMITYVILLE. MOVIES. They’ve never been good. They’ve never been particularly scary. Just stop. And this movie looks hella cheesy, with bad fake accents and jump scares you can see from a mile away. STOP. These were real people and they were really murdered. Have some respect, and if you’re going to make a movie about this tragedy, make it better than this. UGH.
Lords of Chaos
“In 1987 Oslo, 17-year-old Euronymous becomes fixated on creating “true Norwegian black metal” with his band Mayhem. He mounts shocking publicity stunts to put the band’s name on the map, but the lines between show and reality begin to blur.”
A movie for metalheads! Based on the story of Norwegian black metal bands Mayhem and Burzum (which is both bonkers and cray-cray), this movie looks like a worthwhile band movie with a heavy serving of the horrific. It’s about satanism, violence, church-burning, and murder! Even a very dark group of people can face the same kind of group dynamics you see in classic rock ‘n’ roll pictures. Fame corrupts, and it’ll be interesting to see how this movie deals with this real life darkness.
“Pregnant and on the run, young Mary seeks refuge in an isolated convent in small-town Georgia in the 1950s. When she discovers the community’s dark secrets, Mary must find a way to save herself and her baby before she’s trapped there forever.”
Well, I learned a new word today—nunsploitation! That pretty much sums up this movie—a film where nuns are scary and cultish. And that’s really all I got from this trailer.
Happy Death Day 2U
“College student Tree Gelbman becomes the target of a masked killer when she wakes up in an alternate reality. When the psychopath starts to go after her inner circle, Tree soon realizes that she must die over and over again to save her friends.”
Aw yeah, I unashamedly loved Happy Death Day because it was campy and fun and fairly imaginative for a slasher. Sometimes, you just need a horror movie that’s fun, right? I loved how bitchy the main character, Tree, was, and I loved all the different ways she died. I really hope the sequel is as fun and silly as the original.