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.
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.
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.
2022 has been a fantastic year for horror films there’s so many titles that I can go on about (I’ll save that for the best horror films of the year list) but one movie that next to nobody talks about is Prey For The Devil and for very good reasons. Prey For The Devil is a by the numbers terrible exorcism movie is identical to a lot of those other exorcism movies that a lot of big studios were sending out like there’s no tomorrow in the late 2010s. And much like those ones this one is also really bad, the only major positives are Jacqueline Byers and a few scenes that are actually filmed decently well. Jacqueline Byers does the best she can with such an empty script that ultimately amounts to absolutely nothing, the writing is what seriously bogs this down. There’s absolutely no suspense and the atmosphere is just nonexistent which is mainly due to just how predictable the writing is, if you have seen a single exorcism movie in your life you have already seen Prey For The Devil. There’s also a scene where the movie is really trying to borrow a scene from The Conjuring, it doesn’t work here mainly due to atmosphere not being there at all and the other characters having no development. What else is there to say? It’s a terrible exorcism movie that is so forgettable that you will forget you watched it as soon as the credits roll.
Prey For The Devil is available on all VOD platforms.
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.
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.
Luca Guadagnino is one of the best and most interesting directors working today, A Bigger Splash and I Am Love were really great, Call Me By Your Name was incredibly raw and Suspiria (2018) was an example of how incredible a modern remake can really be plus it was my favorite film of the 2010s. Bones And All is a very different film that Guadagnino’s previous films, it’s a cannibal love story that takes a lot of horror, romance and drama elements, blends them all together and creates something completely unique. First off right from the beginning the film has this very old low budget atmosphere to it that makes the film much more haunting but beautiful at the same time. There’s a huge sense of beauty within the filmmaking, it’s sort of similar to the atmosphere Suspiria had only that Bones And All goes for a more realistic approach. Taylor Russell gives one of the best performances of the year hands down, there’s so much passion, emotion and realism to her performance that truly gives the viewer goosebumps. There’s so much to her performance that adds to her character Maren, her interactions with the other characters is really striking, how she slowly finds out about her family is really investing and her mannerisms are just absolutely perfect. Timothée Chalamet gives his most interesting performance yet, it’s far different than anything he’s done before and I’ll even go far as to say this is one of his best. He’s fantastic here and his chemistry with Taylor Russell is incredibly natural and quite beautiful as well. Lastly there’s Mark Rylance as Sully and he’s quite possibly one of the most creepiest characters I’ve seen In a film this year, every single time the guy appears on screen he makes the viewer’s skin crawl. He’s very intimidating but also quite fantastic as well there’s truly a “low budget horror film villain” type feel to his character but that honestly matches the film quite well. The music is incredibly well done and really compliments the film’s themes and settings flawlessly, despite the film taking place in many different areas there’s this sense of abandonment. Sure there might be a lot of people around but the atmosphere still captures the feeling that you are alone with the film and Maren, the many shots in the film that show a lot of natural dirt roads, hills, forests, lakes ect are truly beautiful and only add to the film’s beauty. Overall Bones And All is one of the best films of the year, it’s a beautifully haunting film that will definitely stick with you especially with Taylor Russell’s unforgettable performance.
This is another case of this movie’s release being far more interesting than the movie itself. Bed Rest was originally going to be released in July of this year, no new information came out about it so it was delayed to next year also in July. Then for whatever reason that I can’t seem to find they decided to just let Tubi release it this year which it came out on Wednesday. So the movie itself? Well it’s just another Rosemary’s Baby type of movie and not a very good one, every possible cliche you can think of is here and the movie never really bothers to try something different or interesting. The acting is truly dull, Melissa Barrera is really trying her best but the script is incredibly lacking when it comes to trying to connect the audience with her character. At times there’s a few emotional bits that work fine enough but they aren’t something you haven’t seen before, by the time the movie reaches it’s third act you probably already have a good idea where this is going. If you have seen Rosemary’s Baby you have already seen Bed Rest, outside of a few scenes and Barrera trying her best there is very little to offer here.
When going into The Menu I expected it to be great given the praise the film got at the Toronto Film Festival, what I wasn’t expecting was for it to be a truly fantastic film. What mainly pushes the film to extra levels is the performances the standouts being Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes and Hong Chau, Anya Taylor-Joy continues to show that she is one of the most interesting actresses currently working today and gives yet another strong performance that she really dives deep into. Ralph Fiennes and Hong Chu are both incredibly intimidating but at the same time strangely hilarious, Fiennes really gives this performance where immediately when you see him on screen he gives the viewer an uneasy feeling. It also helps that Fiennes and Chu work incredibly well together and their character’s personalities just blend so well together that it creates a haunting image. While The Menu may seem like another film that critiques the rich, it’s actually a bit more than that, it critiques food influencer culture which admittedly I have next to no knowledge of, but the film critiques it and says never hold someone you never met on a pedestal. It says this in pretty haunting ways that completely build the film including some kills that are actually pretty shocking and quite effective, atmosphere is truly thrilling and definitely one of those atmospheres that has the abandonment type feel, the film takes place on a island where it’s completely abandoned besides the characters involved. Combine that with some truly effective suspense that quickly gets under the viewer’s skin, some cleverly written dialogue and some incredible performances and you have yourself one hell of a film. Overall The Menu is truly fantastic and one of the best films of the year, make sure to seek this one out!
A Wounded Fawn is definitely a weird one that truly goes bananas very quickly, the film is shot on 16mm and it looks really wonderful. It gives the film it’s own atmosphere and a haunting one at that, it definitely has the eerie feeling that a lot of very low budget horror films from back in the 70s or 80s had. Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben are both solid in their roles, they each bring something different to the film and the interactions between one another make the film all the more atmospheric. The practical effects combined with the makeup are truly incredible, they have a lot of the charm The Evil Dead had and it really works here, there’s a lot of gruesome imagery that is very creative and once again builds to the film’s atmosphere. Everything in this movie just stacks on top of each other and then goes complete haywire during the final acting, it really rewards the viewer with something truly special. Even though the writing can be a bit on the weak side at times particularly in the beginning, that isn’t enough to stop this movie from being a wild ride from beginning to end. Go into this one knowing as little as possible.