“The Strangers: Prey At Night” is a well-crafted sequel in the
John Carpenter tradition, but what’s really interesting about it is
the way it reflects contemporary concerns and anxieties. The
“Strangers” films play on fear of The Other. What is the Other?
Anything that will come, motivated or not, and destroy a couple (in
“The Strangers”) or a family (the new film). You can see these
anxieties also in “The Purge” films (the fourth of which is coming
this summer) and the new “Death Wish” remake. The basic thrust of all
these films is that not only will the government not protect you, but
also that they will force you to take matters into your own hands.
Even though crime has supposedly been falling the last few years,
paranoia is up and people don’t feel safe. The message of these
movies is simple: kill or be killed. You can certainly argue with
this message, but you can’t argue that these films bluntly and
effectively present it. Horror films like these show us what we fear
and also how little we can do to avoid crime. “The Strangers: Prey at
Night” is a terrifying mirror of where we are right now, and as such
is more illuminating than exploitative. It’s unfortunate that horror
films are reflecting current problems, but don’t blame the messenger
for the message. The second installment of “The Strangers” is
recommended and don’t go alone!
Finally, something is new on Netflix that is worth watching. No, I’m not talking about “Death Note” and I’m definitely not talking about the hideous “Gerald’s Game.” I’m talking about “Cult of Chucky,” the seventh installment in the “Child’s Play” series and the best one in a long time. You want gore? This movie has the most gruesome decapitation since “The Omen.” You want mayhem? This is the wildest movie in the series. You want Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly back in their iconic roles? This movie has them. It was also canny to set the movie in a mental hospital, since the patients are schizophrenic so no one believes them when they see Chucky. Fiona Dourif, the star, shows some of the same talent as her dad. Alex Vincent, who plays Andy Barclay in the first two films, is also back starring in this one. How cool is that? I will not talk about the new plot developments in this film; I will simply say that it is definitely worth watching. Don’t miss “Cult of Chucky”!
Sometimes on a shelf at Best Buy you can find some interesting films. In this case, I found “The Monster,” from the director of “The Strangers.” This film is from 2016 and is about a mother and daughter squabbling in a car late at night. The mother accidentally hits a wolf, which shocks them both. They don’t know, though, that the wolf was actually being chased and menaced by a hideous monster. The movie is about how they each react to being trapped stalled on the road with the monster lurking nearby.
This film works for several reasons. The monster is compellingly freakish, and created practically, without CGI. The mother and daughter both give compelling performances. There are some good monster kill scenes. Finally, the director is a master at building suspense, about as good as anyone I’ve seen recently. I prefer small horror films like this to big ones like “The Conjuring” and (eek!) “The Mummy.” If you find this film at a store or on streaming, I recommend checking it out. It’s bloody good!
Looking for an edge-of-your-seat horror winner? Look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a little food for thought, then “It Comes at Night” is not a total failure. The film deals with an outbreak of a deadly virus, possibly smallpox. Nobody seems to really know what it is or how it spreads, but fear and mistrust runs rampant. The film deals with two families whose paths cross in a desolate, apocalyptic future.
There are some good things about this film. The actor playing the 17-year old son is real good. Also, the atmosphere and tension are palpable. The problem is that the film refuses to give the audience information that it needs. Without knowing if the characters’ fears are baseless or valid, it becomes impossible to know how to react to the characters’ decisions. Also, the film concludes with an irritating non-ending that, judging by a sudden change in aspect ratio, may be the young, sick protagonist’s dream.
While I would definitely hesitate to call this a bad horror film, it’s just not a very entertaining one. Also the star, the edgy Joel Edgerton, is wasted here in an unsympathetic role. This film could have really amounted to something. However, in its current form, it’s kind of a waste. Go see something else more uplifting, like almost any film ever made. By the way, the title is meaningless
Are you a fan of “Stranger Things” and “Jumanji”? Have you always wondered if there is more to board games than meet the eye? Welcome to “Beyond the Gates,” an entertaining and sometimes frightening low budget horror film that won the Audience Award at the 2016 Los Angeles film festival.
This film concerns 2 adult brothers whose father disappeared a decade ago who discover a strange board game he was playing before he died. Titled “Beyond the Gates,” of course, the game is an elaborate, mysterious concoction that threatens your mind, body, and soul and takes you to another dimension. In order to survive, you must listen to the game master (played on videotape by Barbara Crampton from “Re-Animator”) and win the game. The two brothers (who are hoping to save their dad from the other dimension( and their friends are affected by the game, and there will be much confusion and weirdness, a body count, blood and gore, and an ending that may not be what the viewer will expect.
I thought this movie was excellent, primarily because of its great premise and unpredictability. The actors are fine and the special effects are good. It’ll make you think twice about playing a board game! It is currently streaming on Netflix and is available on Blu-ray and DVD.