Most Anticipated Films Of February 2023.

Hello again and happy first of February! I still got a lot of reviews of films I saw in January plus the last three Sundance Reviews to send out. But let’s talk about February for a quick moment….I got to be honest here this month doesn’t look too exciting. I’m not exactly sure how this ended up happening but the lineup is just painfully unimpressive, obviously I’m going to watch as many releases as I can, but where as I always tend to look forward to watching several films a month. This month just isn’t quite there.

Anyway there are a few films that I am excited for, before anyone asks why Ant-Man isn’t on the list it’s because I’m just not huge on the Ant-Man films especially the second one. And I don’t think the third one is going to win me over but who knows surprises can happen and may end up being really great.

Anyway on to the list.

8. Winnie The Pooh: Blood And Honey – February 15th (Theaters) – Only putting this on here because I’m really hoping it’s one of those “it’s so bad it’s hilarious” movies.

7. Viking Wolf – February 3rd (Netflix)

6. Cocaine Bear – February 24th (Theaters) – What is it with bears and weird as hell movies this month?

5. Daughter – February 10th (VOD)

4. Sharper – February 17th (Apple TV+)

3. Return To Seoul – February 17th (Theaters)

2. Emily – February 17th (Theaters and VOD)

1. Knock At The Cabin – February 3rd (Theaters)

And that’s the list! Will there be any hidden gems I didn’t mention? Guess we will find out.

Sundance Review: Run Rabbit Run

A fertility doctor notices strange behaviour in her own child.

Run Rabbit Run was one of my most anticipated films of the Sundance Film Festival and is unfortunately the biggest disappointment, while it’s not terrible in fact it does have it’s positives. It’s held back by a lot of things that could have made this movie even better. 

The positives come from Sarah Snook’s fantastic performance which has this raw feel to it at times, which compliments well with the movie’s atmosphere which is another positive. The atmosphere is immediately established when the movie begins and is used quite well up until the third act of the movie where things get way too familiar. Which is the main issue with Run Rabbit Run it’s way too familiar, it’s yet another generational trauma horror movie that really doesn’t offer anything new. There’s some interesting bits of the mother and daughter relationship that show a lot of promise, but unfortunately don’t end up fully working to the full potential. The final act is filled with a bunch of plot points that are very familiar even the mother and daughter aspect which started out promising enough quickly turns into familiarity. 

Overall Run Rabbit Run has it’s moments but ultimately misses when it comes to being memorable and bringing something new to the table. 

Run Rabbit Run will be released on Netflix later this year. 

5/10 C

Sundance Review: Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls

Onyx the Fortuitous, is struggling. He’s misunderstood at home and work, but his dreams for a new life seem to be answered when he lands a coveted invitation to the mansion of his idol Bartok the Great for a ritual to raise the spirit of an ancient demon.

Unfortunately Onyx The Fortuitous and the Talisman Of Souls did not do it for me at all, once again I don’t have a whole lot to say here mainly due to the fact this based off something I have never heard of up until I saw the movie. 

Onyx The Fortuitous is a character that Andrew Bowser he also plays the character, he’s character that has a very dedicated following online. And apparently this movie was a Kickstarter project so I do give the much earned respect Andrew Bowser and his team deserve for making the movie actually happen. Unfortunately the said movie isn’t that great, while the cast is pretty fun particularly Olivia Dudley and Rivkah Reyes who actually do bring some decent performances and everyone else seems to be having a lot of fun. The rest of the movie has a lot of jokes that fall completely flat plus if you have no idea who Onyx is like I did you are not going to get a lot of the in jokes among other elements as well. 

What really does put the nail in the coffin is the pacing combined with the running time, this was much too long and I get they wanted to make something more grand and special for the character. But sometimes online characters work far better in shorter video format and that’s definitely the case here, it starts to become very repetitive after awhile and just makes you keep checking the time when it will be over. 

I’m sure die hard fans will love this but for everyone else not so much unfortunately. 

Onyx The Fortuitous and the Talisman Of Souls currently has no release date. 

4/10 D+

There’s Something Wrong With The Children and Snow Falls (2023) Reviews!

Margaret and Ben take a weekend trip with two longtime friends and their two young children. Ben soon suspects something sinister is afoot when the kids start behaving strangely after disappearing into the woods overnight.

There’s Something Wrong With The Children is a new creepy kid movie, I’ve said before on my Top 25 Best Horror Films Of 2022 list that I’m not a huge fan of this subgenre of horror. Every now and then you get some really good ones but a lot of the time they end up being the exact same thing. Unfortunately that is the very case with There’s Something Wrong With The Children.

The positives come from certain shots actually being quite well done and the performances. There’s some genuinely strong performances here from the cast especially Alisha Wainwright, the main problem is from a story perspective the plot has been done better In far better movies. While the gore towards the end is pretty neat and the idea of the movie is pretty cool, a lot of it just falls in the typical cliche creepy kid horror genre. The misunderstandings, some of the adults completely not noticing anything different throughout the movie and so on. It doesn’t help that the kid characters are more annoying than they are creepy, which while could make for interesting movie isn’t what the movie was trying to go far. Maybe if it were a horror comedy the annoying kid aspect would work better, but that’s not the case here. 

Despite the flaws I don’t think There’s Something Wrong With The Children is a bad movie, it’s just a very below average movie with great performances and filming. I definitely think had the writing been a bit more strong that would have given it the push it needed to be great. 

There’s Something Wrong With The Children is available on all VOD platforms. 

5/10 C

A New Year’s Eve party quickly turns serious when a brutal winter storm strands five friends at a remote cabin. Convinced that the snowflakes have infected them with a deadly virus, they struggle to stay awake to avoid freezing to death.

I love a good Cabin Fever movie, for those who don’t know the genre it’s basically when you have a group of characters stuck in a cabin due to certain situations. But oh boy Snow Falls isn’t one of those good ones. 

Quite honestly there isn’t a lot to say here that would be very interesting, there’s definitely a few glimpses of potential that the movie shows towards the final act, but for most of it the viewer is stuck with poorly written characters who you just don’t care for at all. I love one of the ideas the movie was trying to execute that being combining the cold with paranoia and having one of the characters go completely delusional, unfortunately all that really amounts to is a bunch of lazy jumpscares that you can see coming from a mile away. For a movie that has a running time of 79 minutes it definitely feels much longer than it really is, the first act in particular is a chore to sit through with character interactions that are just not interesting enough for the viewer to care. 

Overall despite my short review of Snow Falls sounding very negative, I don’t think it’s the absolute worst thing ever. As I said there’s a few scenes here that show glimpses of potential and what could have been and I do think the cast really tried their best with what they were given. 

Snow Falls is available on all VOD platforms. 

3/10 D-

Skinamarink is a sleep paralysis nightmare to never forget.

Two children wake up in the middle of the night to find their father is missing, and all the windows and doors in their home have vanished.

Skinamarink is what happens if your sleep paralysis demon got a hold of a camera and said “I’m going to make a film!” Then proceeded to make one of the creepiest and atmospheric films out there. 

Skinamarink is a one of a kind experience and really takes the horror genre in a very different, for starters the film doesn’t really follow a three act structure and never even shows the character’s faces instead it tells the story with dark ceilings, occasional voices, flashes from the tv and a few other small elements. This film really reduces you to when you were a child, when you would see shadows that you could almost swear were people when in reality they were just objects in your room. The film has this grainy look to it combined with it being dark and images of walls, hallways, ceilings, in a clever way the film makes your eyes play tricks on you thinking you see something in the film that’s not really there. It’s a very horrifying callback to childhood fears for the viewer, you could almost swear you see something move but in reality there isn’t anything there. Skinamarink of course has the hauntingly beautiful atmosphere to back it up, it’s the type of atmosphere that truly horrifies the viewer to the core and immediately drags you into the film. 

In fact the film really does a fantastic job of bringing the viewer into the film, nothing is explained in the film and it’s up to the viewer to make of all of this. It brings the viewer into a dark and lonely space with the only sign of people there are the voices of children, everything else is dark, lonely and abandonment. 

Overall Skinamarink is a film you must see to believe it’s a truly fantastic film that works on so many levels, it might not be for everyone but I do highly recommend it if you are interested. 

Skinamarink is currently in theaters and will be on Shudder later this year. 

10/10 A+

Sick is a mean and extremely fun slasher film!

While quarantining at her family’s lake house during the pandemic, Parker and her best friend are threatened by an unexpected visitor.

I haven’t been a fan of a lot of the COVID-19 related horror films, of course there’s the exception like Host (which I still think completely nailed the premise.) the common problem with a lot of them is that they don’t use their ideas to the full potential. So how does Sick do? Does it do more with it’s premise? 

Sick definitely surprised me in a lot of ways, for one thing the movie does actually take the premise and actually does a lot more with it. The cast in particular does a really solid job here, with some great performances from Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million who give some pretty raw performances at times while having a few over the top but fun moments as well. The writing from Kevin Williamson and Katelyn Crabb is both entertaining and humorous, Williamson brings what made Scream so fun here. The film itself is also a mean and gnarly little slasher film that has plenty of suspense that truly captures the tone the film is going for. Outside of the first act that helps establish the characters and the plot the rest of the film is one long horror film chase and it absolutely works here, mainly due to the film’s suspense combined with the truly striking performances from Adlon and Million.

The gore combined with the kills are very gnarly and are quite effective as well, they are very entertaining and really give the film it’s own personality. The only main flaw here is the villain’s motive which is a bit too ridiculous even when the film has a strong entertainment value, having that said that wasn’t enough to stop the film from being overall blast of fun. There’s parts of the ridiculous motive that actually works for the film’s favor and leads to some actually quite hilarious moments that deliver quite well. 

Overall Sick is definitely a huge surprise, what could have ended up being yet another forgettable COVID related horror movie ends up being one that is truly fun in a lot of ways, definitely give this one a watch. 

Sick is available on Peacock 

8/10 B+

M3GAN the birth of a new horror icon.

M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a lifelike doll that’s programmed to be a child’s greatest companion and a parent’s greatest ally. Designed by Gemma, a brilliant roboticist, M3GAN can listen, watch and learn as it plays the role of friend and teacher, playmate and protector. When Gemma becomes the unexpected caretaker of her 8-year-old niece, she decides to give the girl an M3GAN prototype, a decision that leads to unimaginable consequences.

M3GAN was definitely a pretty solid way to kick off 2023, even before the film was released there was people already talking about it (very strong marketing) luckily the film itself is quite great, which is due to a lot of factors. 

For starters the acting is actually really strong here, for a film about a robotic doll the acting hits quite hard in a lot of areas, Alison Williams does a really solid job as the lead, Violet McGraw once again shows she’s a very exciting new talent and seriously hits it out of the park with a lot of the mother and daughter moments. Jenna Davis who voices M3GAN you may not recognize, mainly due to her being more of a influencer (kind of) she went viral for the penny nickel dime video that came out years ago back when Jenna Davis was a child. The now 18 year old actress does a shockingly fantastic job voicing M3GAN, she’s intimidating yet humorous there’s this nice balance between the two that makes M3GAN herself such a fun character and really captures what makes such a fun horror movie villain. Horror villains like Chucky and Freddy have this humor to them but also stay on task and are serious when they need to be, the exact same can be said for M3GAN. 

The writing from Akela Cooper (who wrote Malignant) pushes this even further, perhaps what makes M3GAN stand out the most is the balance of being campy and wanting to say something about it’s themes. The film does indeed talk about technology and parenting which the film does a pretty good job of avoiding the obvious “technology bad” element that a lot of movies tend to do, it actually connects the two themes of parenting and technology quite well even if it isn’t the most profound discussion in the world the movie does make it work. Then there’s the campiness that is just truly fun, M3GAN is a film that knows what it exactly wants to be and isn’t afraid to embrace it especially during the last half of the film. It’s something that a lot of other films really tend to forget, if you have a bizarre premise with a lot of hysterical moments such as M3GAN singing Titanium by David Guetta and Sia, or M3GAN doing random dances that look like they came from Tiktok why not go all out? Finally the film itself is actually quite hilarious and just an overall fun time, the moments I mentioned before are only two of what makes the film hilarious there’s plenty of other moments here that truly shine and give the film character. 

Overall M3GAN is an incredible solid way of kicking off 2023, while it did have to hold back on the kills due to the PG-13 rating (although I believe that they are going to release the R rated cut when it goes on VOD) that doesn’t hurt the movie that much. It’s still a hilarious movie with strong writing and a horror movie villain that will most definitely become an icon. 

M3GAN is currently playing in theaters. 

8/10 B+

Top 25 Best Horror Films Of 2022.

I’ve said this before but when it comes to film genres the horror genre is by far the most diverse, it has a ton of subgenres that give the filmmakers so much room to create something truly special, which is one of the many reasons why it’s my favorite genre in film. I’ve been wanting to do a best horror films of *insert year here* list for awhile now and was actually supposed to last year, however things got busy but the time is right now. Especially since 2022 was such a fantastic year for the genre, it was a fantastic year for film in general but a lot of the quality came from the horror genre and it looks like that’s going to be the case in 2023.

Before we begin with the list there’s two honorable mentions that are worth mentioning.

Hellraiser (2022) – directed by David Bruckner

One thing that 2022 really did a fantastic job with is taking a series that has went downhill and completely turn the boat around, that is absolutely the case for Hellraiser. It’s the best film since the original all the way back in 1987, what really works here is the performances, Bruckner’s haunting direction and the atmosphere. Odessa A’Zion’s character actually goes through some really solid character development and just gives a fantastic performance. Jamie Clayton makes Pinhead her own and still captures the haunting atmosphere of the character from the original. Bruckner applies the same sort of atmosphere he used in his previous film The Night House and uses it here which leads to a beautiful dark film. Really hoping for a sequel for this one

Sissy – directed by Hannah Barlow and Kane Senes

Sissy is a slasher film that really rewards the viewer, it takes it’s time to introduce the characters, establish a thrilling atmosphere and giving some character development. When the film starts to get going it gets really great, the kills are fantastic, the dialogue is surprisingly really investing, it’s a slasher film that brings really strong elements to the table that some modern slasher films often forget.

Now let’s get into the list!

25. The Black Phone – directed by Scott Derrickson

The Black Phone is definitely one of the bigger names of the horror genre from this year and rightfully so, it’s been a bit since Scott Derrickson’s last horror film which was Deliver Us From Evil (2014), like I said in my review The Black Phone is Derrickson’s best film since Sinister (did not like Doctor Strange or Deliver Us From evil), what we have here is a simple story but a truly haunting one. What really makes The Black Phone are the performances Ethan Hawke is truly fantastic here and gives one of the most unsettling performances of the year, the atmosphere coming from him gives the mindset and feel of a completely deranged person. Mason Thomas and Madeline McGraw both give some of the best child actor performances I’ve seen in a very long time. When the performances and atmosphere are combined together they really result in such a haunting film that Derrickson did a wonderful job directing.

24. Smile – directed by Parker Finn

From one very popular horror film to another let’s talk about Smile, quite honestly this is the biggest surprise of the list. A lot of people including myself were very surprised by Smile, it could have easily been a forgettable studio horror film that would be talked about for less then a week and then be forgotten about. That’s not the case here! Although Smile might not be original it does take the subject of trauma and mental illness and executes it very well, Sosie Bacon gives a very strong performance, the camerawork helps the film standout quite a lot and much like The Black Phone the atmosphere truly helps build the film. It’s a haunting film about a subject that might be overdone in horror films, but it’s the execution that makes Smile standout among the crowd.

23. Orphan: First Kill – directed by William Brent Bell

Orphan: First Kill was going to happen eventually, Orphan has become such a popular horror film over the years to the point where they just couldn’t ignore that. There were some concerns about Orphan: First Kill mainly because of the director William Brent Bell which I won’t go much into I’ll just say his directing career is not good. However those concerns went away when the film came out, Isabelle Fuhrman is such an underrated actress, each time I see her in a film she absolutely nails it and that really applies here, even as a 25 year old she still killed it as Esther. It’s truly amazing how well she pulled it off she still feels the exact same from when she played Esther back in 2009, everything else really keeps what made Orphan so great from the brutal kills, to adding more character development to Esther and the overall atmosphere it’s truly a blast of fun, the twist also completely takes advantage of just having a complete blast combining the build up and this campy nature to it. Prequels in film are often times hard to get right but this right here is an example of a really good one.

22. Piggy – directed by Carlota Martínez-Pereda 

It’s pretty unfortunate that Piggy has been forgotten about because on the surface it may sound like another one of those “victim of bullying gets revenge” sort of movies, but that’s not the case here. The movie surprisingly has a strong commentary on bullying and body shaming, it questions the mortality on both sides both Sara and the bullies. Laura Galán does a really great job as Sara and gives a very genuine performance, the film has a ton of gore like a lot of French (part Spanish) horror films tend to have, the ending ties the bow very nicely and leaves with a pretty high note.

21. Watcher – directed by Chloe Okuno

Watcher might not be anything for the genre but much like some of the other films on this list so far it’s the execution that really gives the film the push. Maika Monroe gives such a strong performance here and the same can be said for Burn Gorman who gives a very creepy performance that really matches the atmosphere the film is going for, the final moments of the film are quite disturbing mainly due to how raw they really feel, Chloe Okuno truly does a fantastic job with her direction creating a haunting atmosphere that will definitely get under the viewers skin.

20. The Innocents – directed by Eskil Vogt

The Innocents is a very well crafted horror film that really plays with the idea of abandonment, I’m not typically a fan of creepy kid films as a lot of them tend to use the exact same ideas combined with not very good acting. But here the children are brilliant and almost instantly get under the viewer’s skin, there’s a lot naturalistic performances that have a range of emotions. The Innocents doesn’t rely on jumpscares or gore to be scary or even to be slightly disturbing, it’s all in the atmosphere and the performances that really elevate the film.

19. Speak No Evil – directed by Christian Tafdrup

If it’s one thing to take away from Sundance 2022 it’s that it had a lot of films that had a simple enough plot but quickly drove into madness, Speak No Evil was one of those it has a simple setup of two families meeting but quickly becomes much darker. The direction the film takes is quite unexpected and ends up being quite disturbing, it’s pretty shocking yet very welcoming. It piles on the disturbing elements and the elements of fear until it just explodes into this one giant bomb of “what the hell is going on here.” Going into Speak No Evil knowing as little as possible is key so if you haven’t already be sure to watch it on Shudder.

18. See For Me – directed by Randall Okita

See For Me was the first film I saw at the 2022 Sundance film festival and it has stayed within the Top 100 Best films of this year, the film is one of the more unique home invasion films to come out in recent years. The film has fantastic representation for disability representation and even non-binary representation as well, Skylar Davenport is visually impaired and identifies as non-binary, they do a fantastic job in the leading role the film is a lot in the same vein as Hush where the film shows through the lens of someone with a disability, it feels so much more authentic and the direction balances the dramatic moments with the atmospheric ones. I do hope we get to see more of Skylar Davenport in the future as they have the makings of being an very exciting talent.

17. Fresh – directed by Mimi Cave

Sundance 2022 had quite a lot of disturbing films previously mentioned Piggy and Speak No Evil and Watcher (well the ending is pretty disturbing), Fresh Is a mixture of a disturbing film and a very very dark comedy. I wasn’t exactly sure if it was going to work but due to Mimi Cave’s atmospheric direction and the performances from Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan (this is honestly some of the best acting he’s done) it really comes together very nicely. As I said in my review the film does feel a lot like 10 Cloverfield Lane, but the film takes those elements and makes them it’s own. Finally the balance of comedy and disturbing moments is really strong here it really makes me excited to see what Mimi Crave does next.

16. Scream – directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

It’s already been said numerous times already but it’s quite incredible to see the consistent great quality that comes out of the Scream franchise (third movie is definitely the weakest but it’s definitely not bad), Scream 2022 only keeps that quality up with such an entertaining ride of a film. It’s essentially a huge celebration of the franchise and continues what made the other films so great, newcomers to the franchise are a lot of fun particularly Jenna Ortega (one of her many roles of the year) and Jasmin Savoy Brown. The film has a lot of brutal kills that are very well done, the legacy characters are given their time to shine and the overall film is just really entertaining. Olpin and Gillet previously worked on Ready Or Not and very easily applied their success here, Scream VI comes out next year which I’m looking forward to!

15. Prey – directed by Dan Trachtenberg

Remember at the beginning of the list with Hellraiser when I mentioned about completely turning franchises around? Well that is most certainly the case here, The Predator series has struggled to have a good film for awhile now. Outside of the first film and Predator 2 (like I said in my review it depends who you ask but I found it to be fun) the quality was lacking. However Dan Trachtenberg takes the series back to it’s roots and creates a very thrilling film that has some seriously gorgeous atmosphere. He uses a lot of the same techniques he used with 10 Cloverfield Lane and succeeds masterfully, Amber Midthunder gives one of the strongest performances of the year and really makes me excited to see what comes next for her. Prey is not the ordinary franchise film it allows the characters actions, cinematography and visuals to tell the story there’s a lot of quiet moments here that truly are striking. Prey is something you just wouldn’t see a lot of mainstream studios attempt at all, I’m truly happy we are going to see more of Amber Midthunder and I do hope this means Dan Trachtenberg will be directing more!

14. Mad God – directed by Phil Tippett

Mad God is a unique one on the list, for one thing it’s a stop-motion animated horror film which isn’t too common (most of the time you see those with shorts.) the film is Tippett’s passion project something he’s wanted to make for several years now, he’s done so much visual effects work for many recognizable films such as A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Jurassic Park, The Robocop movies and many others. Mad God is an almost narrativeless film that makes the viewer to try and come up with their own conclusion of what’s going on. I said this in my review but I will say it again Mad God is a beautifully crafted nightmare that also feels like an acid trip from hell, the film has the abandonment feel that really sticks with you throughout the film, I still stick with what I said in my review where my interpretation of the film is how civilizations can easily crumble, inventions made by the civilians are used against them by their god. Whether that’s the case or not Mad God is truly a fantastic film that I’m truly glad Phil Tippett shared with the audience.

13. The Sadness – directed by Robert Jabbaz

The Sadness I only heard about thanks to a few people on Film Twitter and Horror Twitter discussing it, saying how shocking and disturbing it was…that really doesn’t even begin to describe it. The Sadness takes the whole zombie genre and asks “what if zombies were intelligent and are sadistic rapists?” It’s very shocking and quite disturbing but definitely one of the most unique zombie films to come out in recent years, the film mainly succeeds due to the acting and attention detail especially with the graphic kills and the fear in each of the character’s eyes. Definitely not for everyone but if you like zombie films and disturbing films this might be for you.

12. Soft & Quiet – directed by Beth de Araújo

Soft & Quiet was my favorite film of SXSW 2022 when I first reviewed it and that still remains true especially after a rewatch last month. It’s a brutally honest film about a white supremacist women group flat out saying their racist beliefs that ultimately leads into disturbing events. The point the film is getting across is to show and say that anyone who you would least expect can be a white supremacist, the beginning of the film surprises the viewer by letting this information flow out naturally. Unless you have actually heard what ends up happening in the film this is a very surprising reveal, the acting is very realistic, the cinematography is shot in this very raw style that is truly haunting. What truly makes the film work is there is no sugarcoating, it’s the brutally honest truth that unfortunately is very very real. It’s not going to be for everyone but if it sounds interesting to you give it a go, just know what you are getting into.

11. We’re All Going to the World’s Fair – directed by Jane Schoenbrun

I saw this one back at the 2021 Sundance film festival, it finally released in April of this year and I still really love it. One of the many things I love about the horror genre is someone will always come along and bring a new type of horror and Jane Schoenbrun does just that, it combines elements of the coming of age genre and internet horror subgenre then paints a surprisingly very sad picture. Mainly due to the film focusing on observations of being lonely on the internet and that wanting to be a part of a group on the internet can be dangerous. The film doesn’t only say “internet bad” it actually tells the dark sides, Anna Cobb gives a terrific performance as well. There’s this haunting atmosphere to the film that’s truly beautiful and really captures the topic. Schoenbrun really has a really strong directing style that instantly gets the viewer’s attention, they have another horror film called “I Saw The TV Glow” coming out pretty soon (already in pre-production so it could be released next year).

10. Terrifier 2 – directed by Damien Leone

To start off the top 10 we have Terrifier 2 a film that was not only one of 2022’s many sequels that are better than the first film, but a $250,000 budget film that made $12.2 million at the box office. Terrifier 2 gained a large fanbase very quickly and it’s very easy to see why, the film is absolutely entertaining and is a huge love letter to the classic splatter film genre and even has the spirit of it. The gore combined with the kills are nasty but truly incredible, Lauren LaVera gives a very strong performance plus her character Sienna is just one of those characters that you instantly really like. Finally you can really feel the passion that went into this film, it’s very clear that Leone is a huge fan of the horror genre and it definitely shows here. Very excited to see what’s in store for Terrifier 3.

9. The Menu – directed by Mark Mylod

I was definitely expecting The Menu to be great but what I wasn’t expecting was for it to be a very clever fantastic film. The performances combined with the atmosphere is truly what elevates the film, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes and Hong Chau all give some of the best performances of the year. Fiennes and Chau are both genuinely intimidating and their personalities blend so well together which really helps. The atmosphere is very thrilling but at the same time darkly funny, there’s a really sweet balance of the two different types of atmospheres the film is going for and it truly works, it’s a genuinely investing critique on the food influencer culture. Finally there’s Anya Taylor-Joy which gives yet another fantastic and very memorable performance, The Menu is very well written, darkly funny and very strongly acted!

8. Barbarian – directed by Zach Cregger

Barbarian was this year’s Malignant, a truly off the rails ride from beginning to end that you never wanted to stop. Without giving anything away because as everyone says it’s definitely a requirement to go into Barbarian knowing as little as possible, the film has this strong urban legend type feel to it that is just really creative. Justin Long and Georgina Campbell are truly fantastic here and deliver some quite strong performances, it’s the very definition of a midnight film especially when watching it with a crowd. The atmosphere is truly perfect and remains an entertaining ride from beginning to end.

7. Nope – directed by Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele’s third film Nope is his biggest film yet especially when it comes to scale which is truly epic. The film has this mix of styles from a ton of directors such as Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, M. Night Shyamalan, Hitchcock and John Carpenter, Spielberg mainly comes from the third act being a huge spectacle and the creature of the film sharing lots of similarities to Jaws. Hitchcock and Carpenter come in with the suspense of the film (some could argue the score is partly Spielberg and Carpenter), Shyamalan comes in with some of the characters and a few of the shots, finally there’s Kubrick who is definitely the cinematography (absolutely gorgeous.) the part that stands out the most is Jordan Peele took all of these directing styles and completely made them his own. Finally there’s Daniel Kaluuya’s and Keke Palmer’s performances that are some of the very best of the year.

6. X – directed by Ti West

Ti West completely masters the whole 70s and 80s slasher film throwback idea with X, from the craft, the filming, acting, directing it completely feels like a film that is straight out of the 70s and 80s. The cast is truly some of the best of 2022 Mia Goth truly nails it with both her performances, Jenna Ortega once again is truly great, Britney Snow’s performance is wonderful to see since she’s back in horror again and Kid Cudi gives a solid performance. X combines slow burn elements, with character moments and slasher elements as well. Sure at the film’s core it is a slasher film however it does have it’s theme of old age which is genuinely sad as well, the film takes it’s time to develop the characters as well as Pearl who is truly well written. X is a film that not only feels like a throwback film from the 70s and 80s but it also looks like one.

5. Resurrection – directed by Andrew Semans

Resurrection was my favorite film from Sundance 2022 and that still remains true, it’s a bizarre disturbing film that really goes insane during the third act in all the right ways. It has a bizarre nature that has a lot of David Cronenberg like filmmaking to it including some elements from Cronenberg but like a lot of films on the list it makes those elements it’s own. Without a doubt Rebecca Hall is truly the standout here, her performance is incredible as well as haunting. Finally there’s the 10 minute monologue that is one of the best scenes from a film in 2022, it’s intimidating, it invests the viewer and it’s masterfully acted by one of the very best actresses working today.

4. Bodies Bodies Bodies – directed by Halina Reijn

Bodies Bodies Bodies as a film works so much more than you would expect, the incredibly fun cast particularly Rachel Sennott, Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova and Myha’la Herrold is one of the main aspects that really makes the film work. They all easily connect with one another giving the viewer plenty of very memorable moments, the film is also one of the very few films to actually capture how someone from Gen-Z would talk and act. The Gen-Z style humor truly works here and it’s very clear that Haliana Reijn and Sarah DeLappe understood that, the tight and close up shots create a thrilling atmosphere and makes the film actually very grounded. Finally the film takes the whodunnit genre and does something different with it, the leads to a twist that is very cleverly written into the story. I’m very excited to see what Halina Rejin does next.

3. Crimes Of The Future – directed by David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg returned in 2022 with a film that reminds the audience why he’s the master of body horror with Crimes Of The Future. You can feel the classic Cronenberg feel in the atmosphere within the first few seconds of the film, it’s the dark and mysterious atmosphere that compliments the world the film is taking place in. With this world surgery is the new sex and the world itself compliments that with a lot of architecture that actually tells the story of the world. While some might argue that there wasn’t enough world building, the film builds the world visually in a more non traditional way, there’s tons of shots here that really speak for themselves. The cinematography tells a lot of the story with some gorgeous shots that are captivating, Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux are both phenomenal here and give some genuinely chilling performances. Kristen Stewart gives this truly unique hypnotic and terrifyingly beautiful performance that is truly unforgettable, Cronenberg’s direction is truly masterful and is just absolutely beautiful to see return.

2. Bones and All – directed by Luca Guadagnino

Luca Guadagnino has already proven that he can nail the horror genre with his previous film Suspiria (2018) and he once again nails it here. Bones and All is cannibal love story that takes elements of romance, horror and drama blends them all into one to create a masterfully crafted film. The very old low budget feel of the film is truly relaxing and really shows the beauty within the cinematography, Taylor Russell gives one of the best performances of the year and quite honestly one of my favorites from a horror film. There’s something so sweet and touching about her performance that instantly connects you to her, Timotheé Chalamet gives his most interesting performance of his career yet and really connects well with Taylor Russell. Mark Rylance is absolutely terrifying here and has the “low budget horror villain” type feel to him that makes your skin crawl. When you combine the performances, the music, cinematography and the old low budget feel you get such a haunting film that is absolutely gorgeous.

1. Pearl – directed by Ti West

It’s quite amazing to see two Ti West films that are both masterfully crafted and are completely different from one another release in the exact same year, Mia Goth gives the best performance of 2022 not only is her performance a wonderfully written character study of Pearl but it leads to several unforgettable terrifying moments that truly make this film special. Mia Goth has a 6 minute monologue towards the end of the film and it’s easily my favorite scene from a film in 2022, it’s well filmed, truly well acted and the writing is haunting with tons of little details thrown in. the atmosphere is thrilling there’s something very eerie about the town the film takes place in. Where anything can happen at any given moment, it matches the type of town you would have in a nightmare it’s truly haunting and the style of the film only makes it that more effective. The use of Technicolor and replicating it into a film from the 1930s as well as combining classic horror is truly captivating and really making this a beautifully crafted masterpiece. Pearl is a film that truly feels like a beautiful nightmare that you really want to keep exploring because of it’s beauty and depth, there’s so much to this film that Ti West created and Mia Goth compliments with her performance. It’s a film that has every single element working with it to create such a wonderful film.

Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge has nice callbacks but lacks in everything else.

When horror guru Rad Chad Buckley’s funeral turns into an elaborate series of death traps centered around his favorite films, the guests must band together and use the rules of horror to survive the bloody game.

Honestly there isn’t a whole lot to say about Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge, the first Scare Package was nothing more than a bad anthology horror movie that was way too meta for it’s own good. While this one drops the meta elements it adds a lot of callbacks to other horror films which is perfectly fine. The problem is it really takes away from the story being told, to be absolutely fair the story being told isn’t particularly interesting either it’s just a giant parody of the Saw movies. Which again is perfectly fine but hasn’t that been done quite a few times already? Its not even done particularly well outside of the practical effects and the kills that are quite entertaining, it’s very clear that the people behind this movie have a deep love for the horror genre, mainly due to a ton of references being shown. The problem is just putting a bunch of callbacks to the original movie and other horror movies doesn’t make a good movie. The writing is very bare bones, the acting is bland and the direction is very messy especially towards the end. I’m sure fans of the first movie might like this one.

Scare Package II: Rad Chad’s Revenge is available on Shudder.

3/10 D-

Shudder Christmas Horror Film Reviews: The Apology and Christmas Bloody Christmas.

Twenty years after the disappearance of her daughter, recovering alcoholic Darlene Hagen is preparing to host her family’s Christmas celebration with her best friend Gretchen. Late Christmas Eve, Darlene’s estranged ex-brother-in-law, Jack, arrives unannounced, bearing nostalgic gifts and a heavy secret.

I’ll tell you one thing The Apology isn’t your typical campy Christmas horror film that’s for sure, the movie starts out pretty tame with the overall setup but actually becomes a bit disturbing when the movie gets to the plot. What mainly keeps this movie moving is Anna Gunn’s performance, she does such a great job and actually gives a pretty raw performance. The movie is very bleak and that really reflects with the atmosphere, once the movie starts to tell you exactly what’s going on here it could actually be a bit disturbing mainly due to how it’s played out. It never shows any of the disturbing actions instead it tells it through the two main characters Darlene Hagen and Jack Kingsley, with that said the script does fall apart during the final act. It does get a bit too over the top which really doesn’t quite match with what the rest of the movie was going for, however that isn’t enough to completely stop it from being an overall decent watch.

The Apology is available on Shudder.

6/10 C+

It’s Christmas Eve and fiery record store owner Tori Tooms just wants to get drunk and party, until the robotic Santa Claus at a nearby toy store goes haywire and makes her night more than a little complicated. Santa embarks on a rampant killing spree through the neon-drenched snowscape, ultimately forcing Tori into a blood-splattered battle for survival.

Christmas Bloody Christmas is another killer Santa movie only that this time around it has this Terminator type feel to it, honestly there just isn’t a whole lot to comment on here. The gore combined with the kills are pretty neat, the killer Santa is pretty fun even if he has absolutely no personality to him other then being a killing machine. The characters are what’s mainly holding this movie back, they are very uninteresting and have no way of development. The acting is fine enough with the exception of Riley Dandy who does a pretty decent job with what she’s given, although the plot is very nonexistent the movie is still quite a lot of fun. It’s a very heavily flawed movie that wouldn’t be my first recommendation when I think “killer Santa” movies but if you are looking for a new one I guess check this one out.

Christmas Bloody Christmas is available on Shudder.

5/10 C