As we move into the long dog days of summer, a new slate of offerings grace our July Horror Movie lineup. June was a really interesting month for horror, giving us solid scares in The Conjuring 2, lots to talk about in The Neon Demon, and good old-fashioned summer horror in The Shallows. July is shaping up to be just as interesting, with the latest creative, violent installment in The Purge horror series, the full-length adaptation of an award winning horror short Lights Out, and a variety of low-budget wonders.



The Purge: Election Year

“As a young girl, Sen. Charlie Roan survived the annual night of lawlessness that took the lives of her family members. As a presidential candidate, Roan is determined to end the yearly tradition of blood lust once and for all. When her opponents hatch a deadly scheme, the senator finds herself trapped on the streets of Washington, D.C., just as the latest Purge gets underway. Now, it’s up to Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), her head of security, to keep her alive during the next 12 hours of mayhem.”

So, here’s the thing. The Purge movies aren’t as smart as they want to be, but they’re definitely not as bad as a people make them out to be. I’ve always found the premise utterly fascinating, though the execution was…flawed, to say the least. But I have to give credit where it’s due and acknowledge that The Purge series talks about racial prejudices and socio-economic inequality when few horror movies would dare broach those subjects.

Part of my criticism of The Purge is because I want the movies to be better. I want them to be more over-the-top. Crazier. Bloodier. Scarier. In short, I think The Purge movies could be amazing examples of satire. The other two films fell prey to introducing too many elements before failing to adequately explore them, which made for some unsatisfying conclusions.

Consequently, I like the direction in which this film seems to be headed. Masked maniac Uncle Sams, George Washingtons, and Betsy Rosses, are always welcome. As are topical references to our own brutal election cycle. However, I am a little anxious to see if series creator James DeMonaco can keep this film on track. Hopefully he can learn to reign it in, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of doing too much yet not enough.


Carnage Park (Limited)

“After botching an ill-conceived bank robbery in a desolate California town, two wannabe crooks flee the scene with a hostage and lead the local lawmen on a dangerous high-speed chase.”

If you like old-school grindhouse flicks, I think I got just the movie for you!

Starring horror veteran Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism) and directed by indie favorite Mickey Keating (Pod, Darling, and Ritual), Carnage Park looks like a delightfully gritty throwback to those desert horror exploitation films. Indeed, Keating confessed that Carnage Park is his “total love letter to Peckinpah, and ‘Deliverance,’ and ’70s survival movies.” Sam Peckinpah’s own brand of vicious ultra-violence is a clear influence, as seen in the trailer (think The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, and The Getaway).

Collider called this “classic western heist flick and sheer nightmare,” which seems pretty accurate to me. Not exactly my cup of tea, but Carnage Park looks promising.



“Four friends on their way to Coachella stop off in Los Angeles to tour true-crime occult sites, only to encounter a mysterious young runaway who puts them on a terrifying path to ultimate horror.”


Barely one minute into this trailer and I was already annoyed with every single character. Insufferable hipster types trying to kill time before Coachella by taking selfies where people were brutally murdered? And then making bad decision after bad decision in a legitimately haunted hotel room? Have they never seen a horror movie before?

Don’t movie producers know at this point that horror audiences don’t want characters who are dumb beyond belief? That we want movies that don’t rely on stupid characters to advance lazily-written plots?

I am not impressed.



Lights Out

“When Rebecca left home, she thought that her childhood fears were behind her. As a young girl growing up, she was never really sure of what was real when the lights went out at night. Now, her little brother Martin is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that jeopardized her safety and sanity. Holding a mysterious attachment to their mother, the supernatural entity has returned with a vengeance to torment the entire family.”

I am excited for this movie! Remember three years ago, when David F. Sandberg’s three-minute horror short film scared the Internet real good? No? Here’s a refresher for you:


Fast-forward three years later–not only has Sandberg adapted his short film into a feature length horror film, but he brought on James Wan, director of Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring series. Wan serves as producer on this film, which seems like a really good sign.

Both Sandberg and Wan are committed to understanding the pros and cons of film as a medium for scary stories. They are both very intentional in their use of filmmaking techniques to deliver true scares. Tools like framing, lighting, and even silence can be used to great effect in the hands of the right filmmaker. It makes for a better horror movie. And the horror genre desperately needs talented filmmakers.

I hope this one lives up to the hype.



Viral (limited)

“Following the outbreak of a virus that wipes out the majority of the human population, a young woman documents her family’s new life in quarantine and tries to protect her infected sister.”

Ehhhh…I’m tired of zombie movies, aren’t you? Especially ones that don’t really bring anything to the table. This looks like every other low-budget zombie virus movie. There might be some good scares and some creative body horror elements, but honestly, probably nothing worth paying to see in the theater.

And also, “Worm Flu?” LMAO

I mean, I guess “Bird Flu” is a similarly silly name, except for the part where Bird Flu was an actual strain of influenza. “Worm Flu” looks like the virus from The Strain mutated and now makes people zombies instead of vampires.


Yoga Hosers (limited)

“Two 15-year-old yoga enthusiasts in Manitoba who work at a convenience store after school join forces with a legendary man-hunter to battle an ancient evil and fight for their lives.”

This film looks RIDICULOUS, in true Kevin Smith form. Which is both good and bad.

Look at that cast! There are a ton of excellent people in this movie—Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne, flipping ADAM BRODY?

Bratzis? Little Nazis made of bratwurst? How come no one thought of this before!?!?

But I’m troubled by how choppy and uneven the trailer looks. It’s a trailer for Christ’s sake—you get to cut together all the good parts. Were those all the good parts? Yeeeesh.

I love Kevin Smith’s weird and quirky style as much as the next person, but this looks positively incoherent. Can you create a whole movie out of a crazy mix of Canada jokes, Nazi jokes, millennial jokes, and yoga jokes? Maybe? I’ll wait for it to be on Amazon Prime.

Sorry ‘bout that.