Director Gore Verbinski has crafted quite an interesting career. After striking genre gold with the remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu, orchestrating one of Disney’s most successful franchises with Pirates of the Caribbean, and continuing his collaboration with Johnny Depp on the animated film Rango and the reboot of The Lone Ranger, Verbinski was poised to do whatever he wanted to do with his next film, and it doesn’t take long to realize this quality in the director’s new film, A Cure for Wellness.
There was never really a need to sequelize 1982’s Poltergeist. It told a complete story. It vanquished the evil spirit haunting the house by film’s end. Heck, it even vanquished the house itself. But because the original movie was a hit and it was the ’80s, the Tobe Hooper/Steven Spielberg collaboration got not just one sequel but two, despite the fact that it does not lend itself to being a franchise. New villains and new mythology—and eventually even new family members—were introduced to keep the story going, albeit with mixed results. And while the sequels have their fans, they’re hardly among the most beloved horror films of the decade. Thanks to Scream Factory’s new Collector's Editions of both, horror fans now have the chance to reevaluate them in the best possible format.
There is a level of audacity to Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness that I can’t help but admire. On paper, it’s not the type of film that generally gets a big studio push in this day and age, but yet, 20th Century Fox is going all out for Verbinski’s weirdly surreal exploration of the one thing none of us can escape—our mortality—and I dig that he once again takes an avant-garde route to give us a grandiose, epic gothic horror movie that wears its influences on its sleeves, yet at times feels like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.
Her curse only takes seven days to work its deadly magic, but it’s been over ten years since Samara was last seen on the big screen in the American version of the Ring franchise. That all changes with the release of Rings this weekend, and while it does share the same name as Jonathan Liebesman’s 2005 short film that bridges the gap between The Ring and The Ring Two, it doesn’t share its predecessor’s ability to get under your skin.
While at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, I had the opportunity to check out a few films that were just a bit outside the horror realm, including Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott’s sociopolitical actioner Bushwick, Marianna Palka’s bleak comedy Bitch, and David Lowery’s unforgettable A Ghost Story, and you can read my reviews for these on-the-fringe-of-horror titles right here in one place.
I have been a fan of Nacho Vigalondo’s ever since seeing Timecrimes back in 2008, and to be perfectly honest, while he’s been at the helm of several other impressive projects, nothing had tickled my cinematic fancies quite like his time travel horror/science fiction mash-up. That is, until I saw Colossal, which is easily Vigalondo’s most ambitious effort to date. A thoughtful and ingenious creature feature that raises the bar for modern monster movies, Colossal is now an early front-runner for one of my favorite films of the year.
As far as franchise finales go, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is an ambitious, action-packed, and wholly satisfying conclusion for fans of the series that have been waiting to see what the Umbrella Corporation and the Red Queen’s endgame would be ever since the original Resident Evil film premiered in 2002.
Horror anthologies can be a tough feat to pull off, especially when you’re trying to pull together different filmmakers’ visions into one cohesive experience. That being said, XX, which recently celebrated its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, succeeds in delivering four wildly distinct stories from several female directors, featuring the talents of Jovanka Vuckovic, Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), and Roxanne Benjamin. Beyond just its historical significance, XX stands out as one of the more successful anthologies we’ve seen as of late, regardless of the gender of its directors.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Key & Peele, then you should already recognize that both Jordan Peele and his frequent collaborator Keegan-Michael Key are huge horror fans, as they regularly paid homage to many of the modern horror tropes we’ve all grown up loving. For his directorial debut, Get Out, Peele takes on one of the more relevant topics plaguing our society today—racism—and infuses his horrific tale with his signature satirical wit for an experience that’s fearlessly bold, hilarious, and an important reminder that we still have so much work left to do as human beings when it comes to issues of equality.
In this day and age, when we’ve seen a lot of brilliant horror movie-related documentaries released over the last few years, it’s sometimes hard for me to get too excited about new ones, just because I wonder what on earth is still out there to explore at this point. Then comes along Alexandre O. Philippe’s 78/52, which presents us with a thoughtful and entertaining re-examination of the iconic shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, peeling back some unexpected and wholly new layers about this often discussed moment in cinema.
A brutal, yet subtle abduction thriller, Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome is a stunning effort from the Australian filmmaker that deftly explores the idea of Stockholm syndrome in a very unexpected, thoughtful, and intimate way.
“This is the third person I’ve buried this week.”
Violence begets violence. It’s a lesson we all (or most of us, at least) learn early on, and it’s a lesson firmly driven home by co-writer/director Chris Baugh in Bad Day for the Cut. His Irish gangster thriller pits an unassuming farmer against the ruthless members of a slick crime syndicate, and the results are both explosive and heartbreaking.
M. Night Shyamalan is on a career upswing, and Split is somewhat of a return to an earlier form for the director of the standout fright film The Sixth Sense and the superhero-influenced Unbreakable. Mr. Shyamalan was, and still is, unfortunately typecast as a director known for surprising, shocking twist endings. This makes watching his films somewhat of a difficult and frustrating ordeal because of the need to overanalyze every aspect. Still, minus a few films, Shyamalan has crafted a career that indulges in the art of the mystery, and with Split, the writer/director proves that he can still build an effectively suspenseful film that keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.
Writer/director Damien Power’s Killing Ground may tread some seemingly familiar territory in terms of its overall approach to survival horror—a young couple dealing with deadly backcountry predators on their idyllic getaway is certainly something fans have seen before. But make no mistake, what seems like a pretty standard set-up in Killing Ground evolves viciously into an unexpected game of cat and mouse, and Powers does a brilliant job of both embracing and deconstructing the genre tropes at play in his horrifically savage thriller.
When people accuse David Cronenberg’s work of being “cold” or “clinical,” I suspect the movie they’re really talking about is his 1988 psychological thriller, Dead Ringers. It is a movie about surgeons, so of course it’s clinical. It is photographed with special cameras and carefully choreographed movements that require precision. It is a film about two men who share an unspoken bond and who keep all of their emotions under wraps. Of course it feels cold. But it is also a movie in which a woman tears into the flesh connecting conjoined twins with her teeth. There’s no mistaking it for anything but a David Cronenberg movie.