Shudder Original review: ‘BLOOD RELATIVES’ is a quirky vampire family comedy you can sink your teeth into. I already want a sequel.

BLOOD RELATIVES

After her mother’s death, Jane tracks down her elusive dad to avoid foster care. When Jane unearths the truth about her father’s past, she demands a relationship, leading the estranged father-daughter team to take a road trip like no other. Oh, also, he’s a vampire. A unique take on the monster genre combined with a family road trip drama makes BLOOD RELATIVES one of a kind.

Victoria Moroles is Jane. Her precociousness is spot a delight. Segan gives her dialogue deliciously reminiscent of Dawson’s Creek, i.e., she is far too eloquent for fifteen. Her chemistry with Segan is comfortable and endlessly amusing. Her takedown of the film’s misogynist energy is chef’s kiss.

Josh Ruben (who also produces) plays Roger Fieldner. A patient who distinctly resembles Bram Stoker‘s Renfield. Kudos to Segan for the character name scramble. It is a role only Ruben could own. After witnessing his sycophantic behavior, I cannot imagine anyone else doing Roger justice. There is a reason he has become a scream king in the past few years. He is the best.

Writer-director-star Noah Segan plays Francis as a Yiddish-spewing loaner. His penchant for a happy-go-lucky attitude is more function over form. We learn about his deep-seated loneliness and unresolved trauma, which creates an equally funny and tragic persona. Segan gives a star-making performance.

The film occurs predominantly at night for obvious reasons. The use of moonlight, dusk, dawn, dashboard, and neon light gives the film a slick overall tone. The comedy shenanigans are balanced beautifully with dramatic growing pains.

BLOOD RELATIVES is an undeniably fun vampire coming-of-age family film. Heartwarming, silly, and intimate, it is easy to see why it garnered so much attention in the festival circuit. Shudder is the perfect platform for Segan’s madcap creation. I formally request a sequel when Jane gets to college. I have to know where this family unit ends up. Don’t forget to bring Fieldner along.


CHECK OUT THE TRAILER:  

Shudder will exclusively stream BLOOD RELATIVES on Shudder on November 22, 2022.

 

BLOOD RELATIVES stars Noah Segan (Knives Out) and Victoria Moroles (“Teen Wolf,” “Never Have I Ever”). It was written and directed by Segan. 

SYNOPSIS: In BLOOD RELATIVES, Francis, a 115-year-old Yiddish vampire, still looks 35. He’s been roaming American backroads in his beat-up muscle car for decades, keeping to himself, and liking it that way. One day, a teenage kid, Jane, shows up. She says she’s his daughter, and she’s got the fangs to prove it. They go on the road, deciding whether to sink their teeth into family life.


 

Found-footage horror-comedy ‘DEADSTREAM’ is coming to Shudder October 6th! Check out the newest trailer.

One of my favorite SXSW 22 films, DEADSTREAM is making its way to Shudder audiences on October 6th. Zero surprise the horror platform picked up the film. I know their audience will eat it up. Filmmaker couple Vanessa Winter & Joseph Winter gives up laughs and jump scares galore, taking advantage of internet narcissism. The duo’s work can next be seen in a segment from Shudder’s hotly-anticipated V/H/S/99, the latest installment in the celebrated found-footage horror series, which premieres out of TIFF’s Midnight Madness later this month. Deadstream is produced by Joseph and Vanessa Winters, alongside cinematographer Jared Cook and actress Melanie Stone, who also star in the film. The Winters co-edited the film, with Joseph contributing to music for the project as well.

Check out the newest trailer for the film and our original SXSW22 coverage below. Put this one on your calendar for sure. 

DEADSTREAM

Directed byJoseph and Vanessa Winter (V/H/S/99)  DEADSTREAM Streams Exclusively on Shudder Thursday, October 6, 2022

Available on Shudder U.S., Shudder CA, Shudder UKI, and Shudder ANZ


21 eclectic films featuring a rabbit… ya know, for Easter.

Could we put together a cuddly list of family-friendly Easter films? Probably. But where’s the fun in that? Here is a list of films where a rabbit is featured in one way or another. Most are straightforward. A few, well, I guess you’ll have to watch them and figure out why they’re there. Happy Easter, and happy hunting for those pesky wabbits.


Space Jam

Swackhammer (Danny DeVito), an evil alien theme park owner, needs a new attraction at Moron Mountain. When his gang, the Nerdlucks, heads to Earth to kidnap Bugs Bunny (Billy West) and the Looney Tunes, Bugs challenges them to a basketball game to determine their fate. The aliens agree, but they steal the powers of NBA basketball players, including Larry Bird (Larry Bird) and Charles Barkley (Charles Barkley) — so Bugs gets some help from superstar Michael Jordan (Michael Jordan).


Fantastic Mr. Fox

After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids the farms of their human neighbors, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Giving in to his animal instincts endangers not only his marriage but also the lives of his family and their animal friends. When the farmers force Mr. Fox and company deep underground, he has to resort to his natural craftiness to rise above the opposition.


The Matrix

Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the most dangerous man alive, can answer his question — What is the Matrix? Neo is contacted by Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), a beautiful stranger who leads him into an underworld where he meets Morpheus. They fight a brutal battle for their lives against a cadre of viciously intelligent secret agents. It is a truth that could cost Neo something more precious than his life.


Us

Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them.


Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit and his three sisters — Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail — enjoy spending their days in Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden. When one of McGregor’s relatives suddenly moves in, he’s less than thrilled to discover a family of rabbits in his new home. A battle of wills soon breaks out as the new owner hatches scheme after scheme to get rid of Peter — a resourceful rabbit who proves to be a worthy and wily opponent.


WATERSHIP DOWN

When a young rabbit named Fiver (Richard Briers) has a prophetic vision that the end of his warren is near, he persuades seven other rabbits to leave with him in search of a new home. Several obstacles impede their progress, including predators, a rat-filled cemetery, and a speeding river. Upon arriving at their final destination, a hill dubbed Watership Down, the rabbits find that their journey is still far from over. Realistically drawn, this British animated film carries an emotional weight.


Donnie Darko

During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days. When Donnie returns home, he finds that a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom. Is Donnie living in a parallel universe, is he suffering from mental illness – or will the world really end?


Miss Potter

Based on the life of early 20th-century author Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit. As a young woman Potter rails against her parents’ wishes for her to marry and settle down. Instead, she continues to write about and draw the animals she has adored since childhood. Her early attempts to find a publisher for her children’s stories are unsuccessful, but an offer from a small firm will turn her into a literary phenomenon.


Night of the Lepus (1972)

Arizona rancher Cole Hillman (Rory Calhoun), dealing with massive rabbit overpopulation on his land, calls on a local college president, Elgin Clark (DeForest Kelley), to help him. In order to humanely resolve the matter, Elgin brings in researchers Roy (Stuart Whitman) and Gerry Bennett (Janet Leigh), who inject the rabbits with chemicals. However, they fail to anticipate the consequences of their actions. A breed of giant mutant rabbits emerges and starts killing every human in sight.


Harvey

Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) is a wealthy drunk who starts having visions of a giant rabbit named Harvey. Elwood lives with his sister Veta (Josephine Hull) and her daughter (Victoria Horne), and Veta worries that Elwood has gone insane. In the process of trying to have him committed, Veta admits that she occasionally sees Harvey herself. The director of the mental home, Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway), tries to reconcile his duty to help Elwood with his own growing experiences with Harvey.


Zootopia

From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a wily fox who makes her job even harder.


Fatal Attraction

For Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), life is good. He is on the rise at his New York law firm, is happily married to his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), and has a loving daughter. But, after a casual fling with a sultry book editor named Alex (Glenn Close), everything changes. Jilted by Dan, Alex becomes unstable, her behavior escalating from aggressive pursuit to obsessive stalking. Dan realizes that his main problem is not hiding his affair, but rather saving himself and his family.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Down-on-his-luck private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) gets hired by cartoon producer R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) to investigate an adultery scandal involving Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner), the sultry wife of Maroon’s biggest star, Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer). But when Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), Jessica’s alleged paramour and the owner of Toontown, is found murdered, the villainous Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) vows to catch and destroy Roger.


Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The plucky characters from a series of animated shorts, Wallace (Peter Sallis) and his dog, Gromit, make their feature debut here. After starting a pest control business just like this exterminator in Orlando, the duo soon lands a job from the alluring Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) to stop a giant rabbit from destroying the town‘s crops. Both Wallace and the stuffy Victor (Ralph Fiennes) vie for the lady’s affections. If Wallace wants to please his pretty client, and best Victor, he needs to capture that pesky bunny.

The Favourite

In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne, and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.


Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s beloved fantasy tale is brought to life in this Disney animated classic. When Alice (Kathryn Beaumont), a restless young British girl, falls down a rabbit hole, she enters a magical world. There she encounters an odd assortment of characters, including the grinning Cheshire Cat (Sterling Holloway) and the goofy Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn). When Alice ends up in the court of the tyrannical Queen of Hearts (Verna Felton), she must stay on the ruler’s good side — or risk losing her head.


Jojo Rabbit

Jojo is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.


Caveat

A desperate drifter suffering from partial memory loss agrees to look after his landlord’s psychologically troubled niece in an isolated island mansion.


HOP

Beneath Easter Island, in a giant factory that manufactures the world’s Easter candy, the popular rabbit is preparing to pass the mantle to his son, E.B. (Russell Brand). But E.B. has no interest in the job and would rather be a drummer. He runs away to Los Angeles, where an unemployed slacker named Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) accidentally runs into him. Feigning injury, E.B. tricks Fred into giving him shelter, but an oversized chick is planning a coup back on Easter Island.


Monty Python and The Holy Grail

A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.


A Christmas A Story

(Don’t argue with me, this film 100% falls under this odd list. In fact, it’s the second film with a hideous bunny suit.)

Based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd, this beloved holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), who spends most of his time dodging a bully (Zack Ward) and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a “Red Ryder air rifle.” Frequently at odds with his cranky dad (Darren McGavin) but comforted by his doting mother (Melinda Dillon), Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.


HOPPY EASTER


Shudder Original review: ‘Night’s End’ is a creepy and campy crowd-pleaser.

NIGHT’S END

An anxious shut-in moves into a haunted apartment, hiring a stranger to perform an exorcism which quickly takes a horrific turn.


Director Jennifer Reeder and screenwriter Brett Neveu bring us the Shudder Original Night’s End. Anxiety-ridden Ken is apartment-bound and attempting to get his life back on track. In doing so, he accidentally records a strange occurrence while filming his amateur YouTube videos. Things get weirder when he’s encouraged to pursue the building’s history and provoke whatever entity might be lurking in his domain. Night’s End is the perfect marriage of creepy and campy. Shudder audiences will love it. 

Every single performance adds to the overall arc of Night’s End. Dark Corners host Daniel Kyrie, and Lyden Knight, played by Theo Germaine, give that YouTube clout appearance. Their distinct personalities up the anty for the finale. The camp enters the arena officially with the introduction of author Colin Albertson, played by Lawrence Grimm, a famous paranormal expert guiding Ken on his journey. Grimm, whose name evokes perfect casting, represents every talking head in any SyFy channel show. He will make you smirk with familiarity. 

Comic relief comes in the form of Michael Shannon. Yes, Michael Shannon! He plays Isaac, Ken’s marital replacement. Donning Hawaiian shirts and giving us an honest-to-goodness stepdad goofiness, Shannon is effortlessly hilarious.

Felonious Munk is Ken’s best friend, Terry. He’s encouraging and genuinely interested in getting Ken well. Walker and Munk’s banter is essential to Jen’s backstory. Kate Arrington, as ex-wife Kelsey, is down-to-earth and loveable. The chemistry with Walker has a closeness that feels grounded. Keep in mind, every single interaction Ken experiences is through Zoom. Bravo to the editor Mike OlenikGeno Walker plays Ken with a super natural (two words) energy. His paranoia is palpable as frustration and confusion pour off the screen. Walker is a commanding lead. 

Night’s End uses horror tropes to tackle mental health uniquely. Fran Bittakis‘ set dressing, cleverly disguised in draped plastic, serves a dual purpose. The apartment appears amid repair, but it also allows for some ghostly apparition moments. Zoom works perfectly, considering Ken suffers from crippling anxiety and agoraphobia throughout the film. The significance hits home in the finale. The creepy factor will turn your knuckles white, even if the film’s climax begets an eye roll. Know what you’re going into with Night’s End, and you’ll undoubtedly have a good time. I still think there is sequel potential. That’s a character journey I want to explore. 


Premieres March 31 on Shudder


SXSW 2022 review: ‘THE CELLAR’ begins with great source material.

THE CELLAR

Filmed on location in Roscommon, Ireland, The Cellar tells the story of Keira Woods (Elisha Cuthbert), whose daughter mysteriously vanishes in the cellar of their new house in the country. Keira soon discovers there is an ancient and powerful entity controlling their home that she will have to face or risk losing her family’s souls forever.


Shudder original The Cellar made its debut at SXSW 2022 in the Midnighter’s section. Elisha Cuthbert helms this haunted house film alongside Eion Macken. As a husband and wife team working on a new Gen X influencer platform, their strangely inexpensive Irish mansion comes with more than some old furniture. With Mom and Dad busy pitching their ideas, kids Ellie and Steven are home alone when the power goes out. As Ellie descends the creepy stairs of the pitch-black basement in search of the fuse, she mysteriously disappears while on the phone with Kiera. 

Writer-director Brendan Muldowney made a short film in 2004 titled The Ten Steps (which you can find online.) The short film is horror perfection. The Cellar is a feature expanded from that story. The Ten Steps captured all the fear in 10 minutes. The Cellar takes a lot of cliches that genre fans will love, and frankly work well, and becomes an overlong and dimly lit film. As a mom, I felt Cuthbert’s sense of urgency was missing. These parents are the least panicked Mother and Father I’ve ever seen. Where are the missing posters? No tears of distress? 

As Kiera investigates the house’s history, we are introduced to everything from Jewish mysticism to quantum physics. I wasn’t expecting math to be a thing, yet here we are. I thought the record player that coaxed the family members into all sorts of trouble was clever. But, not so much the characters googling Latin quotations. It’s a lot. There are fleeting moments of greatness, such as an ancient abacus moving on its own, air blowing from underneath the cellar door as if a creature were heavily breathing. The classic scares worked best for me. The final 20 minutes is where the real action occurs, a clear nod to The Beyond. This is what I was waiting for, and it is genuinely satisfying. The visual change-up was an honest “Hell, Yes” moment, no pun intended. The Cellar is ultimately a film Shudder audiences will dig. So, simply sit back, don’t overthink it, and enjoy the devilish chaos.

 

*Perhaps ignore the fact that it will remind a few of you of Krampus.


Official Selection, SXSW 2022. If you miss its Shudder release, you can catch The Cellar in theaters on April 15 from RLJ Films.


To learn more about SXSW 22 click here!


‘HELLBENDER’ begins streaming today on SHUDDER! It’s gonna rock you to your core.

HELLBENDER

In Hellbender, 16-year-old Izzy (Zelda Adams) suffers from a rare illness that has kept her isolated on a mountaintop with her mother (Toby Poser) her whole life. As Izzy begins to question her sickness, she pushes back against her confinement and secretly befriends Amber (Lulu Adams), another girl living on the mountain, but her newfound happiness is derailed after she eats a live worm as part of a juvenile game and finds an insatiable and violent hunger awakened within her. To understand the hunger, Izzy must learn the dark secrets of her family’s past and the ancient power in her bloodline.


*Originally posted during Fantasia 2021*

Honestly, if I could choose to grow up in another family, it would be the Adams family. I’m not talking about Morticia and Gomez. While I adore that lot, I’m talking about the indie horror filmmaking family. These industrious and smart people consist of Mom, Toby Poser, dad, John Adams, and daughters, Zelda and Lulu. Fantasia 2019 audiences got their first taste of spooky genius with The Deeper You Dig. It was scary, intense, unique, and then some. This year, Fantasia 2021 audiences got to experience a new tale of terror with Hellbender.

Their cinematography is stunning. They really understand how to fill a frame. Their writing feels collaborative. John Adams’ score is deliberate and insanely effective. The songs are so fantastic I would buy their album! Within the first three minutes of Hellbender, I gasped and rocked out. If that’s not a winning film, I don’t know what is.

Zelda Adams as Izzy is so intriguing in her innocence and curiosity. Her journey from child to adult occurs before our eyes, whether we like it or not. Toby Poser, as Mom, is a force of nature. Often telling an entirely emotional story without words. Their chemistry is never forced. This is not always the case when a family works together. In the case of the Adams family, it’s their biggest strength. Their work is dark and that takes trust and guts. And allow me to assure you both are teeming in Hellbender, quite literally. There is one special effect in particular that blew me away. When you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

It’s a mother-daughter relationship film that just so happens to center around a witchy heritage. Predictably, deceit under the guise of protection is bound to backfire. Hellbender is about a secret and sacred family history. But, it’s also about the power of the feminine and a slick takedown of any sort of patriarchal structure. The social commentary between the treatment of witches and any female, ever, is glaringly obvious, but no less genius. Hellbender is undoubtedly one of the most kick-ass films from this year’s festival. It’s no wonder it won Best Score and Best Actress (Zelda) in the CHEVAL NOIR AWARD FOR FEATURE FILMS. I cannot wait for Shudder audiences to join in their fandom.

*PS- The Adams’ have agreed to let me be part of their family via Instagram. I couldn’t possibly be more excited. I’ll run the camera and hold the boom next time. Also, not afraid to get covered in blood.*


Premieres February 24 on Shudder

Try Shudder Free for 7 Days: http://www.shudder.com

A Shudder Original review: ‘THEY LIVE IN THE GREY’ feels like a scary and emotional stranglehold.

THEY LIVE IN THE GREY

While investigating a child abuse case, a young social worker discovers that a supernatural entity is tormenting the family. To save the parents from losing custody of their child, she must confront her fears and use her clairvoyance to stop the malevolent force. Written and directed by brothers Burlee and Abel Vang (The Tiger’s Child.) They Live in the Grey stars Michelle Krusiec (Hollywood), Ken Kirby (Good Trouble, Dynasty), Ellen Wroe (For All Mankind, Shameless), Madelyn Grace (Don’t Breathe 2).


In my humble opinion, horror must be enthralling to justify 2-hour runtime. Shudder’s latest original film, They Live In the Grey, earned every minute of screen time with its terrifying plot. Malevolent energies torment Claire, already mired in personal grief. Your heart sits in your throat as you watch her battle demons, both internal and otherwordly. They Live In The Grey is a story of unresolved trauma and redemption that makes your skin crawl.

Michelle Krusiec as Claire is phenomenal. The guilt and terror she carries will break your heart. Seeing a kickass, vulnerable, genuine, and captivating Asian lead is the best. More, please! Watching this film as a parent brought an unrelenting fear and visceral reaction. Krusiec owns every frame. She plays every single beat just right.

A little Sixth Sense and a bit of The Conjuring, the script, penned by our directors The Vang Brothers, has a progression that never ceases to intrigue. (Thank you for a fully-fleshed-out female lead! Huzzah!) Disturbing imagery, gruesome sound editing, and solid special effects makeup will excite the typical genre fan. The overarching melancholy hangs heavy, consuming Claire and the audience. The scares are incredible. A keen eye may spot cleverly placed ghosts in the vain of Mike Flannigan‘s The Haunting of Hill House. They Live In The Grey has honest-to-goodness franchise potential. Shudder, I’m looking at you for an original series greenlight.

Premieres February 17 on Shudder.


Try Shudder Free for 7 Days: http://www.shudder.com


Shudder original review: New anthology ‘Horror Noire’ features 6 thought-provoking black horror stories.

HORROR NOIRE

Six stories, one film. Experience the next chapter of Black horror. Starring Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer, Spartacus), Luke James (The Chi, Thoughts of a Colored Man), Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Brandon Mychal Smith (Four Weddings and a Funeral, You’re the Worst), Sean Patrick Thomas (Macbeth, The Curse of La Llorona), Peter Stormare (American Gods, Fargo,) Malcolm Barrett (Genius: Aretha Franklin, Timeless) and Rachel True (The Craft, Half & Half), among others. With new and adapted stories by Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, Victor LaValle, Shernold Edwards, Al Letson and Ezra C. Daniels.


‘Brand Of Evil’

I love a good anthology, and Shudder has them in spades. From The Mortuary Collection to Creepshow, Horror Noire is another original notch in subscribers’ belts. Written and directed by black filmmakers featuring black horror stories, this is an expanded follow-up to the 2019 Shudder original documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. Horror Noire (2021) features 6 strikingly different shorts. Each reaches into a different facet of terror. 


The Lake

A woman’s fresh start turns sour when she moves into a lake house that has a checkered past. This script slowly evolves, no pun intended. I did not see this coming. The storytelling is whipsmart, with juxtapositions between past transgressions and present transformation. It’s brilliant. 

Brand of Evil

This selection is an exceptional commentary on black labor, art, and capitalism. Brand of Evil is cultural appropriation in the most literal sense. How much does your soul cost? 

Bride Before You

A newly married woman seeks help conceiving by way of magic. The generational trauma of black women receives a retelling against a Reconstruction-era backdrop. Beautiful sets and costumes help create an eerie environment for a story that’s visually and metaphorically engrossing.

‘Sundown’

Fugue State

The fine line between religion and cult mixed with rogue attacks by individuals with their faces painted red. A prolific writer and his reporter wife bring the story a little too close to home. Is this a MAGA/anti-vaxxer allegory? I don’t think that’s overreaching. 

Daddy

Parenting is terrifying. Your child is your entire world, and at the same time, you can miss the old version of yourself. It will change you, no matter how hard you try. I must mention Miles Mcnicoll as James. He is a natural. So sweet, you’ll want to eat him up. He’s got a bright future in this industry. 

Sundown

This selection is laugh-out-loud and sharp as hell, taking its title, quite literally, into darkness. The “Whites Only” signs are the first (and most brilliant) clue in this short. This cast is perfect. Every single actor knocks it out of the park. The tongue-in-cheek way Sundown overkills tropes is *chef’s kiss. Genre fans are going to love this one. I would watch this one in expanded feature form in a hot minute. It’s delicious.


Premieres October 28 only on Shudder


Starring Lesley-Ann Brandt (Lucifer, Spartacus), Luke James (The Chi, Thoughts of a Colored Man), Erica Ash (Survivor’s Remorse, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Brandon Mychal Smith (Four Weddings and a Funeral, You’re the Worst), Sean Patrick Thomas (Macbeth, The Curse of La Llorona), Peter Stormare (American Gods, Fargo,) Malcolm Barrett (Genius: Aretha Franklin, Timeless) and Rachel True (The Craft, Half & Half), among others. With new and adapted stories by Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, Victor LaValle, Shernold Edwards, Al Letson, and Ezra C. Daniels.


Shudder Original Review: ‘V/H/S/94’ is another fantastic gore-soaked addition to the franchise with a killer nostalgic twist.

V/H/S/94

Synopsis

A Shudder Original Film, V/H/S/94 is the fourth installment in the hit horror anthology franchise and marks the return of the infamous found footage anthology with segments from franchise alumni Simon Barrett (Séance) and Timo Tjahjanto (May the Devil Take You Too) in addition to acclaimed directors Jennifer Reeder (Knives & Skin), Ryan Prows (Lowlife) and Chloe Okuno (Slut). In V/H/S/94, after the discovery of a mysterious VHS tape, a brutish police swat team launch a high-intensity raid on a remote warehouse, only to discover a sinister cult compound whose collection of pre-recorded material uncovers a nightmarish conspiracy.


Boasting unbelievable practical FX, the scares in V/H/S/94 are brilliant. I’m talking legitimate, meticulously timed jump scares from every single director. The quality of the film forces you to sit up and pay closer attention, sometimes squinting over the tracking adjustments as they crowd the screen. The V/H/S franchise has been able to capture something glorious beyond the found footage genre. It’s the mystery behind the overall arch that keeps you creeped out and engaged on top of the fantastic individual stories. It’s a double whammy of horror goodness. You’ll shiver and gag and think, “Damn, this is good shit.”

The grand scheme of V/H/S 94, or “Holy Hell,” has the audience following a SWAT team into an industrial building filled with monitors and plenty of body parts. They don’t know who or what they’re searching for, exactly. As they sweep the rooms a new tape begins to play. Each one is completely different and spectacularly twisted. Tape 1, titled “Storm Drain” features a local legend of Ratman. An ambitious reporter and her cameraman get in over their heads. Tape 2, “The Empty Wake,” sees a young woman left to record the wake of a recently deceased man. Alone with a dead body during a storm? No thanks. This segment was my personal favorite. It’s old-school scary meets nuts visuals. I couldn’t help but yell NOPE at the screen, again and again.

Tape 3 “The Subject,” tells the tale of a mad doctor attempting to improve humans with technology. If you ever wanted a live first-person shooter game experience, now you’ve got one. Tape 4 “Terror” takes aim at domestic terrorism with a group of militiamen planning to cleanse America with s monstrous weapon. I also have to mention, director Steven Kostanski’s infomercial “The Veggie Masher.” It’s totally maniacal and random as hell. But at the same time, perfectly harkens back to those 3 am hour-long commercials for ridiculous kitchen gadgets. The finale actually gives you answers. As the 4th installment of the franchise, V/H/S94 makes it clear that these films are alive and well and ready to fuck you up.


V/H/S/94 WILL BE RELEASED

EXCLUSIVELY ON SHUDDER ON OCTOBER 6TH

Available on Shudder US, Shudder CA, Shudder UK, and Shudder ANZ


Directed by Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto,

Ryan Prows & Jennifer Reeder


Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: U.S. / Indonesia

Language: English / Indonesian

Fantasia International Film Festival 2021 review: ‘MARTYRS LANE’ is one of this year’s best.

MARTYRS LANE

Leah, 10, lives in a large vicarage, full of lost souls and the needy. In the day the house is bustling with people; at night it is dark, empty, a space for Leah’s nightmares to creep into. A small, nightly visitor brings Leah comfort, but soon she will realize that her little visitor offers knowledge that might be very, very dangerous.


I feared this Martyrs Lane would be overlooked among the plethora of gore-filled content. That would have been the biggest shame to befall this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. Writer-director Ruth Platt‘s carefully crafted tension and mystery should be celebrated. It has a quieter Babadook energy to it that is unmistakable. The film manages to be both a slow burn and a vice grip of tension. The editing puts your head in a spin in that you’re never sure what is real until the very final scene. Performances are outstanding. The fact that the entire premise mostly hinges on the work of two small girls will blow you away. It is no wonder young lead Sienna Sayer won the Special Jury Rising Star award. Martyrs Lane will hit harder for parents. Any story centered around children begets that internal ache from the very getgo and Martyrs Lane is no exception. It’s beautifully shot and elegantly lit. The exquisite progression in makeup heightens the overall dread. It speaks to the consuming power of grief and secrets. I cannot wait for Shudder audiences to experience this film in a few weeks. This one is special. Undoubtedly, one of my favorites from this year’s lineup.


Martyrs Lane Streams Exclusively on Shudder on Thursday, September 9th

North America, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand


Shudder Original review: ‘The Banishing’ is overwhelming.

THE BANISHING

From acclaimed director Chris Smith comes THE BANISHING, which tells the true story of the most haunted house in England. A young reverend and his wife and daughter move into a manor with a horrifying secret. When a vengeful spirit haunts the little girl and threatens to tear the family apart, the reverend and his wife are forced to confront their beliefs. They must turn to black magic by seeking the help of a famous Occultist…or risk losing their daughter.

Portal mirror, dimensions, time loops of residual energy, religious mob, eccentric occultist, spirits with unfinished business… and Nazis? A doomed location and a church’s secret creates a perfect storm for a young family with skeletons of its own. Creepy dolls and things that go bump in the night fracture a fragile family dynamic. While British horror is a strong genre, The Banishing takes a familiar premise and cranks it beyond viability. You’ll be scratching your head as imagery rolls out… and rolls out, again.

The performances are brilliant. John Heffernan as Linus gives a fascinating and nuanced performance. Sexually repressed by choice and the church he is in denial of what is right in front of his eyes. Jealousy leads to rage and Heffernan is downright startling when it rears its ugly head. Sean Harris is a magical creature. Strawberry-dyed hair and a familiar eccentricity make Harris the only guiding light in making sense of this screenplay. I’d watch an entire series of his character’s adventures. That’s the franchise. Jessica Brown Findlay as Marianne is powerful. A palpable fear that only a mother knows seeps from her pores. Her feminist declarations will make you want to stand up and cheer.

The film’s final scene is so abrupt it’s actually irritating. This is clearly a massive plot point that is given but a moment, and that moment is the end of the film? That’s a ballsy way to, perhaps, set up a sequel. You must already have the audience on your side for that to succeed. The film is like taking every season of Ryan Murphy‘s American Horror Story and mashing them together with zero explanation. There is no consistency in the screenplay other than Marianne’s “take no shit”, anti-slut-shaming, mom-boss attitude, and Linus’ vile weakness. When you finally get to the supposed outcome with daughter Adelaide, it screams The Haunting of Bly Manor. The overall look of the film is undeniably gorgeous. Some scenes contain viscerally jarring imagery. Ultimately, Shudder subscribers can decide for themselves whether it’s overstuffed or if we’re more in a 13 Ghosts territory. You could give it a pass being that it’s based on the true story of the most haunted house in England. In my opinion, The Banishing deserves to be fleshed out as a series. Show up for the performances, the set, and the cinematography, and let me know what you think once the screen goes black for good.

THE BANISHING will stream exclusively to Shudder on April 15th in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as via the Shudder offering within the AMC+ bundle where available.

THE BANISHING

Genre: Horror

Country: United Kingdom

Runtime: 97 min

Year: 2021

Rated: NA

Starring Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Sean Harris (Mission: Impossible franchise), John Lynch (The Secret Garden, Black Death), and John Heffernan (Eye in the Sky) and directed by Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance, Triangle).

THE BANISHING is a WestEnd Films production.

ABOUT SHUDDER:

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers, and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. For a 7-day, risk-free trial, visit www.shudder.com.

Shudder original review: ‘SHOOK’ is a satisfying comeuppance.

SHOOK

When Mia, a social media star, becomes the target of an online terror campaign, she has to solve a series of tests to prevent people she cares about from getting murdered. But is it real? Or is it just a game at her expense?

Shudder continues to kill it with its original content. SHOOK pokes fun at the people we love to hate but cannot get enough of; Influencers. In a world where every minute detail is curated for an audience, i.e. for-profit, losing control is the biggest fear.

The colors in the film are striking and very on-brand for influencers. Bright pink and blue hues establish a cohesive theme. The editing is incredibly creative, mixing screen views, live streams, projections, and most thought-provokingly Mia’s anxiety manifested imagery. The backstory is an emotional stronghold and the introduction of a local serial dog killer is sort of the most ridiculous but perfect setup. By now we all know killing animals is a sign of a sociopath so we have an idea that even outside the influencer angle Shook has crazy potential, very much pun intended. The terror factor comes in the form of psychological trauma to the nth degree.

Daisye Tutor as Mia strikes a fantastic balance between self-absorbed and vulnerable. You’re rooting for her despite her hideous tendencies. Fans of Scream, Saw, CAM, and most recently Eugene Kotlyareno‘s Spree will love SHOOK. Writer/director Jennifer Harrington‘s screenplay is driven by fear, guilt, denial, and revenge. There’s an unexpected complexity tied to the plot. If you think you know how this ultimately plays out, you’re dead wrong.

Shook will premiere and debut exclusively to Shudder on February 18th in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as via the Shudder offering within the AMC+ bundle where available.

Written and directed by Jennifer Harrington and starring Daisye Tutor (Guest House), Emily Goss (Snapshots), Nicola Posener (The Bold and the Beautiful), Octavius J. Johnson (Sleepless), Stephanie Simbari (Here and Now), Grant Rosenmeyer (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and real-life make-up and social media influencer Genelle Seldon.

SHOOK

Genre: Horror

Country: USA

Runtime: 89 min

Year: 2021

Rated: NA

Shudder Original review: ‘HUNTED’ proves the big, bad wolf is real.

HUNTED

Directed by acclaimed French filmmaker and comic artist Vincent Paronnaud (co-director of Cannes Jury Prize and Academy Award nominee PERSEPOLIS), HUNTED is an exhilaratingly ferocious take on survival horror that blends primal violence with grindhouse pleasure in a predator-prey riff on Little Red Riding Hood. The film follows Eve (Lucie Debay), a woman who encounters a seemingly charming man at a bar, only to uncover his true sociopathic nature, sparking a dire, life-or-death chase through the wilderness. A Shudder Original Film.

Little Red Riding Hood becomes snuff film bait. HUNTED is a survival horror with a fairytale familiarity. The scariest part of this film is the fact that’s it’s completely plausible. There’s a reason women are told to park under street lights and carry their keys between their fingers. We are not allowed to lulled into a false sense of security because then we become targets. But buyer beware, when animal instinct drives survival, don’t f*ck with a woman. Writer/director Vincent Paronnaud understands this dynamic. This is made abundantly clear in the most glorious ways.

While being absolutely terrifying, HUNTED is beautiful to watch. Wooded landscapes look like a magical fairytale as they surround Eve in the quiet moments. That’s the false sense of security subconsciously. It’s pure genius. The visual juxtaposition throughout of wild and innocent animals alongside our leading lady, Eve, is a striking metaphor. Her wardrobe of an iconic red coat and hoodie says all you need to know as she is hunted by the biggest, baddest wolf I’ve ever seen. He is grossly manipulative emotionally and ceaselessly violent. He’s an incel with the balls to back it up. When we meet the classic Huntsman character we’re offered another twist in the plot. I literally went from exclaiming, “Oh, hell yes!” to, “Oh, shit,” in minutes. Performances from every single cast member are outstanding. The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking. The last third of HUNTED is unhinged. It’s absolutely unpredictable and a complete WTF. SHUDDER’s audience is going to go nuts during the final scene. It’s a visceral satisfaction.

HUNTED premieres on Shudder January 14th in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand

A Shudder Original review: ‘A Creepshow Holiday Special’ is on the naughty list (and that’s a good thing)

In the holiday themed, hour-long episode, “Shapeshifters Anonymous,” fearing he is a murderer, an anxious man searches for answers for his “unique condition” from an unusual support group. Starring Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect) and Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), the special is written and directed by Creepshow showrunner Greg Nicotero, based on a short story by J.A. Konrath (Last Call).

If you are not laughing your ass off when the breakdown of evil hits both biblical proportions and the origin story of Santa Claus, then you need to check yourself. It will make you suspect of any of Santa’s Helpers all over town. Written and directed by Shudder series showrunner Greg Nicotero, A CREEPSHOW HOLIDAY SPECIAL  is a damn holiday horror treasure. Keeping in traditional Creepshow style, the striking comic book art by Kevin West and Michael Broom appears and dissolves when necessary making you take notice of the spectacular editing. Be sure to keep a sharp eye on the speech bubbles for added hilarity. Based on a story by J.A. Konrath, Nicotero’s episode is titled “Shapeshifters Anonymous”. When we discover that there is more to shapeshifting than the average Lycanthrope, a whole world of possibilities opens up to the viewer.

This cast’s chemistry is unreal. Adam Pally is mostly on the receiving end of tongue in cheek jokes when he’s usually the one dishing them out. Watching him volley with Anna Camp is pure Christmas magic. Accompanied by a phenomenal ensemble featuring Pete Burris, Frank Nicotero, Derek Russo, and perhaps the most spectacular of them all Candy McLellan. You will fall madly in love with her! Cast her in all the things immediately, please and thank you. Of course, the larger makeup FX are masterfully reminiscent of the original series; very 80’s campfest. The final twist gives up an epic showdown that only rings true in the Creepshow realm. While this episode is less frightening than funny, it’s an awesome holiday treat. I for one am looking forward to the release of Creepshow Season 2 in 2021.

A CREEPSHOW HOLIDAY SPECIAL will be available exclusively on Shudder on December 18, 2020. The episode will also be available on Shudder Canada, Shudder UK, and Shudder ANZ.

Shudder original review: ‘LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST’

A lyrical and spiritual cinematic essay on The ExorcistLeap of Faith explores the uncharted depths of William Friedkin’s mind’s eye, the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography. The film marks the sixth feature documentary from Philippe (78/52, Memory: The Origins of Alien), continuing his thoughtful analysis of iconic genre films. Starring William Friedkin. Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL. (Also available on Shudder Canada, Shudder UK and Shudder ANZ

This is truly a peek behind the wizard’s curtain. The most shocking part of the in-depth conversation with William Friedkin is where he admits what was planned and, more strikingly, what wasn’t. He was often flying by the seat of his pants, but you can tell by the passionate way he describes his process that there was more planning than we can ever imagine. He uses music as a device in directing. In the doc, side by side juxtaposition from other iconic films and scores make his point perfectly. The editing makes you want to have The Exorcist on another screen to experience the full moments that are being referenced in snippets. The meticulously placed subconscious effects on the audience are profound. Once they’re explained, they will blow your mind.

Friedkin’s believes that every moment surrounding the creation of The Exorcist was fate. From getting the book to casting choices, to existing shooting circumstances in Iraq. He uses art to inspire the look of scenes. Discovering the painting that is responsible for the iconic cover art takes your breath away. The battle over the score is nothing short of epic. For someone who boasts about asking for one or two takes, his obsession with the minute details will astonish you. Friedkin is pretty much a mad genius. He explains how his faith had to be separated from the job. The philosophy behind the story is what solidifies the meaning for him. While this is solely Friedkin’s perspective, and we know the permanent physical and emotional damage on Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn, hearing so much detail from the director’s mouth, his creative process, and the effect the experience had on him is nothing short of fascinating. You don’t have to be a fan of The Exorcist to completely love this documentary. The insight on what goes into making a film come alive is gold unto itself.  For genre fans, in particular, it’s magic.

LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST is available today on Shudder

ABOUT SHUDDER:

AMC Networks’ Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving members with the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural. Shudder’s expanding library of film, TV series, and originals is available on most streaming devices in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. To experience Shudder commitment-free for 7 days, visit ​www.shudder.com​.

 

Review: ‘The Dark and the Wicked’ is dark, disturbing, and brilliant.

The Dark And The Wicked

On a secluded farm, a man is slowly dying. Bedridden and fighting through his final breaths, his wife is slowly succumbing to overwhelming grief. To help their mother and say goodbye to their father, siblings Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.) return to their family farm. It doesn’t take long for them to see that something’s wrong with mom, though—something more than her heavy sorrow. Gradually, as their own grief mounts, Louise and Michael begin suffering from a darkness similar to their mother’s, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over their family.

I think sometimes people forget about the importance of sound and score. In horror, they are like an unseen character. In the opening of The Dark and the Wicked, sound and score put you on edge before the title appears on-screen. Christopher Duke, Joe Stockton, and Tom Schraeder, alongside writer-director Bryan Bertino carefully craft that feeling of uneasiness you want in a genre knockout. The premise is relatable enough, to begin with; a brother and sister return to their home as their father lay dying. Something is wrong with their mother. She tries to tell them but can’t quite express what’s invading her house. This plot gets more and more upsetting as clues are revealed. It made my skin crawl.

Stand out performances from Xander Berkeley, Tom Nowicki, Lynne Andrews, and Julie Oliver-Touchstone must be acknowledged. They are all key in the build-up to a shattering finale. Michael Abbott, Jr. is a great foil for Ireland. Their relationship feels very genuine. Marin Ireland is magnificent. The fear in her eyes is everything we feel. They portray the pull of family obligations to perfection. The Dark and the Wicked is one of the most atmospherically disturbing films of 2020. The colors and lighting scream bleak and ominous from the get-go. Smartly used tropes like spooked animals, doors opening themselves, and body horror mixed with ghostly visions let us know things are clearly not okay in this house. The practical fx are gruesome. The build-up is a bit reminiscent of Relic. Long lingering shots get under your skin. Alongside that keen sound is sharp scene editing. It creates small jump scares that have a massive overall impact on the mood. The film relies heavily (and brilliantly) on what you don’t see just as much as completely messed up, mind-bending imagery. The Dark and the Wicked succeeds in creating an unsafe space that is undeniably horrifying. This film literally made me shiver. It is a quick descent into spectacular terror.

RLJE Films will release the horror film THE DARK AND THE WICKED In Theaters, On Digital and On Demand November 6, 2020. 
Written and directed by Bryan Bertino (The Strangers, The Monster, Mockingbird), THE DARK AND THE WICKED stars Marin Ireland (“The Umbrella Academy,” Hell or High Water), Michael Abbott Jr. (Loving, Mud) and Xander Berkeley (“The Walking Dead”).
~The Dark and The Wicked will also arrive on Shudder in early 2021. Stayed tuned for more info!~

NightStream 2020 capsule review: ‘Lucky’ is biting social commentary in horror form.

A suburban woman fights to be believed as she finds herself stalked by a threatening figure who returns to her house night after night. When she can’t get help from those around her, she is forced to take matters into her own hands.

Nightstream 2020 audiences have undoubtedly heard about Lucky by now. Absolutely killing to on the festival circuit under the keen direction from Natasha Kermani it is not to be missed. Screenwriter/star Brea Grant has crafted a whip-smart script that is both a clever takedown of patriarchal bullshit and a scary as hell genre film. She is outstanding, essentially playing every woman ever. It’s perfectly timed in a week when “I’m Speaking” is being emblazoned onto merch thanks to Kamala Harris. The terror comes from the fact that it is more a woman’s reality than it is fiction. With great fight choreography and engrossing editing, Lucky is the feminist horror anthem we need right now. You’ll want to go back and watch it over and over to catch all the nuance. It’s simply fantastic and that has nothing to do with luck.

U.S. Premiere
United States | 2020 | 81 Min.
Dir. Natasha Kermani

A Shudder Original Film

Review: All hell breaks loose in Shudder Original, ‘The Cleansing Hour’

presents

I’m not even going to lie, if The Cleansing Hour actually existed I would watch it. Shudder is a genius platform for this film, especially now. Religion is always a solid platform to skewer but add in a social media angle and you’ve got yourself one entirely engrossing genre flick. The exploitation gets flipped by a demon in a terrifying (sometimes comical) way. It’s divine justice for a con man. But there is much more to it than first meets the eye. The writing is sharp and twisted.

The performances are outstanding. Truly scary shit. Kyle Gallner as Drew is the good guy, the brains behind the operation. His dedication to Max and Lane may be his ultimate downfall. Gallner is deep in this role, which is no surprise. I am a huge fan of his eclectic body of work. This is no exception. Ryan Guzman as Max is the perfect self-obsessed asshole. Guzman plays the victim very well but walks a phenomenal line between the need for attention and contrition. But it is the performance from Alix Angelis that is fully immersed in terror and sheer brilliance. The entirety of the film’s success is driven by her insane work, and I do mean work. She must have been exhausted after every take.

The practical fx missed with the sound editing made me almost vomit. It took me way too long to catch my breath. The look of the film is spot on. The camera work is cool as hell. But it is the storyline that will suck you in. The entire plot is centered around confession. This demon is looking for something very specific and until then, it will torture and kill until it is satisfied. I could not tear my eyes away from the screen even when I wanted to. Writer/director Damien LeVeck and co-writer Aaron Horwitz know exactly what they’re doing. The social commentary is unmistakable. The Cleansing Hour is full tilt, batshit crazy. The ending… you’ll never see it coming. Stay. Through. The. Credits.

Directed by: Damien LeVeck | Written by: Damien LeVeck and Aaron Horwitz

Starring: Ryan Guzman, Kyle Gallner, Alix Angelis

Review: Shudder’s ‘HOST’ is the scariest film I’ve seen all year.

Six friends get together during lockdown for their weekly zoom call. It’s Haley’s turn to organise an activity and instead of a quiz, she’s arranged for a Medium to conduct a séance. Bored and feeling mischievous, Jemma decides to have some fun and invents a story about a boy in her school who hanged himself. However, her prank gives license for a demonic presence to cross over, taking on the guise of the boy in Jemma’s made-up story. The friends begin noticing strange occurrences in their homes as the evil presence begins to make itself known, and they soon realise that they might not survive the night. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.

Cast: Haley Bishop, Radina Drandova, Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward, Emma Webb, Edward Linard

Playing out in real-time (56 minutes to be exact), 6 friends jump on a Zoom call after they hire a medium to entertain them. The visual set up is key. What appears to be totally casual laptop setups is actually compromised of very specific angles that will put any genre fan instantly on alert. A well placed open door in any frame is a constant cause for anxiety. Since we’ve all been doing these damn calls for months now, Host stylishly lulls you into a false sense of familiarity before pulling the rug out from underneath you. It’s quite genius in it’s simplicity.

25 minutes in and I was genuinely frightened. I’m talking chills, and jump scare, heart-pounding, all in. The cast is us, but we get to experience it through them. I’m not sure if I would even watch this on a big screen. I suggest you watch it on a laptop for the ultimate immersive experience. It’s as if you’re on the call but muted. What a fantastic set up for this moment in time. Remember that feeling when you first saw The Blair Witch Project? For those like myself who saw it opening night at a sold-out screening, before the internet ruined everything, we felt real terror. As soon as the screen went black, there was screaming and a stampede for the exit. This has that special kind of fear attached to it. HOST is found footage reinvigorated.

The acting from every single person is phenomenal. It makes me wonder how much of the script they had knowledge of because they are superb. Director Rob Savage never even entered the same room as his cast members, directing them through Zoom to maintain social distancing. This feat is impressive. Not only did they shoot the film themselves, but set lighting, and executed the practical fx. When you see the final product, wow. This may be the scariest film I’ve seen all year. I watch A LOT of horror and this film’s second half was almost all watched through my fingers. Bravo to everyone involved. I, for one, will not be sleeping tonight and what better a compliment for a horror film.

HOST is now available on SHUDDER

Review: Shudder original ‘The Pool’ dives head first into the deep end.

A young couple find themselves trapped in a 20’-deep swimming pool with no way out—and that’s only the beginning of their problems. Starring Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham, directed by Ping Lumpraploeng.

Relentlessly unnerving, The Pool takes a seemingly simple premise and turns it into an elaborate horror movie. From one moment to the next, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat and rooting for our leading man. Theeradej Wongpuapan must have been so physically drained after each takes, not to mention emotionally. The script highlights how desperation leads to ingenuity. Minus the holier than thou moment around abortion and the sometimes silly looking CGI, The Pool is successful because it’s so frustrating. It’s like watching a slow form of brutal torture, but undeniably entertaining torture. Some moments will be difficult to watch. They may break you. But, damn, this script is strong as hell. I don’t remember the last time I literally gripped the couch and was sweating near the end of a film. This is a film that I grant full permission to yell at the screen. I have no doubt writer-director Ping Lumpraploeng would approve. The visual starkness of (essentially a unit set) that occurs for the majority of the film is in high contrast to the dreamy opening shots that will make you gasp. This allows us to delve into the mindset of the characters, it heightens the panic. The Pool is incredibly unique. Great writing and exceptional performances keep it afloat.

The Pool is now available on SHUDDER