This taut Canadian horror-thriller, about hotel guests attacked by a deadly virus, never mentions Covid. But and maybe this is the fate of contagion films now its hard to read a movie about viral spread that turns people into gasping ghouls as being about anything else.
The film opens on Naomi (Yumiko Shaku), a pregnant woman on the run from her husband in Japan, sitting in a hotel hallway with other people gulping for air. She crosses paths with Val (Carolina Bartczak), a mom whose plan to take her daughter and escape her abusive husband gets a little easier when he turns into a weak, wheezing monster. Turns out its no conspiracy theory: The outbreak has sinister origins.
I dont want to say more, because in just 79 minutes the director Francesco Giannini, in his solo feature debut, fronts his film with strong central female characters and packs it with ferocious twists.
Its too early to tell to what extent coronavirus horror movies will influence horror. Hall and the demonic Zoom-call picture Host the scariest movie ever, according to a new study makes me think it will. The jurys out on Corona Zombies.
Stream it on Hulu.
You dont need to remember the 1980s to appreciate Prano Bailey-Bonds creeping-dread drama, her feature debut about the Video Nasties scare in Britain. The honest-to-God moral panic swept the country, leading to the banning of 72 films.
Enid (Niamh Algar) spends her days watching extreme movies, not for pleasure but for the British government. Shes a censor and its the 1980s, which means its her job under a Thatcher-era law to cut or ban films she considers beyond the pale.
But an emotionally taxing job isnt a great fit for Enid, whos struggling to cope with the disappearance of her sister, Nina (Amelie Child Villiers), when they were kids. Enid thinks Nina is still alive, a conviction that gains traction when Enid sees an actress in a movie who could pass for her grown sister. As fact, fiction and her horror movie assignments collide, Enids grasp on reality takes a bloody, surreal turn.
The film is an 84-minute jackpot of VHS-age style, from Annika Summersons gritty cinematography to Emilie Levienaise-Farrouchs pulsing score. Even better, as an eerie exploration of a womans emotional unraveling, its a story of heartfelt substance.
Stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
Charlie (Adam Halferty) just wants the world outside his house his dead fathers house, actually to go away. He ignores his sister, Betty (Jessie Rabideau), when she shows up at the front door with her fianc, Benjamin (Ryan Kattner) and a plan to sell their fathers old Crown Victoria, the one in which he took his life.
But Charlie does pay attention to the strange letters slipped under his door that lead him to his Uncle Pete (James Russo), who Charlie thought was dead. Even weirder is Petes message to his nephew: This thing is going to destroy you just like it did your father.
What does it mean to let go of grief, and what if grief wont let you go? What if grief is a monstrous figure in a black robe who watches you with red eyes? Those are the questions that in 85 weird minutes consume Matthew Goodhues deeply unnerving movie about siblings and memory. This is compact, intense and affecting horror storytelling. Too bad the bumbling Benjamin elbows his way to the front of the finale.
Stream it on Shudder.
The horror faux-documentary has fallen out of favor since the found-footage golden age of the 90s. Thats a shame, because a fictional scary story told through the conventions of nonfiction filmmaking can be, like Hell House LLC, extra terrifying.
Here to fill that gap is this spooky Thai film directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun. It follows a film crew traveling to a rural village to document Nim (Sawanee Utoomma), a female shaman whose body hosts a good spirit worshiped by locals.
The crew members start by shooting beautiful scenes of religious ceremonies, but things take a dark turn when they catch Nims niece Mink (Narilya Gulmongkolpech) attacking people and spontaneously bleeding. Thats when Nim realizes the source of her nieces extreme behavior isnt defiance. Its demonic.
This is a film that simmers, a welcome relief from the tendency to go big with stories that fuse religious belief, family bonds and the supernatural. At over two hours, it eventually overstays its welcome, finishing with excessive chaos. But the final scene, just an interview with Nim, is chilling.
Rent or buy it on Vudu.
When police find Will (Emmett Spriggs) hiding at his grandfathers house the morning after his mother and sister are murdered, its clear something terrible also happened to the terrified young boy. Why did Will look into the police-station security camera and say spirit of death in Mohican? And who was the Native American man accompanying him through the snowy woods that night?
Fast forward and the grown Will (the writer-director Steven Grayhm) returns to his childhood home after his fathers death. When homicide detectives (Nate Boyer and Tamara Austin) come to town to look into a series of murders, Wills past starts to manifest itself in ways no human investigator stands a chance of conquering.
Despite a title that makes it sound like the Hardy Boys are on the case, Grayhms feature debut is a slow-burn thriller that deftly weaves issues of mental illness and family traumas into a cautionary tale set on sacred land. Logan Fulton, the director of photography, makes rural Massachusetts look simultaneously like a winter wonderland and a hellscape.
See more here:
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero