The music is sometimes dramatic, creating a camp atmosphere instead of horror, but the line between good and evil blurs. Everyone Will Burn is one of the few movies you root for the devil.
Raven’s Hollow, directed by Christopher Hatton and written by Christopher Hatton and Chuck Reeves, follows Edgar Allen Poe (William Moseley) as a cadet on a training exercise. Poe and four others encounter a gruesome scene, and Poe convinces the others they need to investigate, leading them to a small town called Raven’s Hollow. The film mixes many others, from Sleepy Hollow to Jeepers Creepers. Raven’s Hollow does deliver an entertaining slice of horror with some scares despite plot holes and a less-than-chilling monster.
Ti West’s Pearl answers the question of what if Dorothy never went to Oz. Feeling like a deranged mix of Wizard of Oz—there is even a scarecrow scene—meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pearl combines a fantasy feel with a riveting turn with Mia Goth as Pearl and shocking bloodshed. X from Ti West was graphic, disturbing slashing horror that analyzed the patriarchal, puritanical restrictions society place on girls and women via a slasher flick.
Australian horror movie Surrogate, directed by David Willing and written by David Willing and Beth King, delves into the paranormal. Mom and nurse Natalie Paxton (Kesti Morassi) winds up ill after trying to save a mysterious woman on her way home. Now, something is wreaking havoc with her life, and Natalie needs to piece together what happened to save her family and herself. Scary moments wrapped in realistic portrayals make Surrogate worthwhile viewing for any horror enthusiast.
Jordan Peele’s latest outing Nope critiques social media, Hollywood, and the need to frame the impossible on immortal celluloid. Nope is a science fiction story of descendants of the first Black wrangler captured on film attempting to be the first Black family to capture indisputable evidence of aliens on film. Filled with images that bring to mind UFOs, Rorschach, money, and lens, one viewing is not enough to capture all that resides in the movie. Peele is a master at crafting appealing characters, nuance, and multiple meanings in an entertaining package. Nope is no exception.
The film follows 13-year-old Finney (Mason Thames) trapped in a serial killer’s soundproof basement when he receives phone calls on a disconnected black phone on the wall from the killer’s previous victims. Though scares are in short supply, there is plenty of suspense and tension. The Black Phone is creepy, and The Grabber will make you shrink back in your seat every time he shows up.
The Liminal Zone, created, written, and illustrated by Junji Ito, is a collection of short horror stories. From Viz Media, with translations by Jocelyne Allen, lettering by Eric Erbes, and cover by Adam Grano, the stories are stand-alone without connections between characters. Traversing transition from one state to another, The Liminal Zone lives up to its title with a dreadful cohesion by a master of horror. Junji Ito can squeeze eeriness out of anything.
They Talk, directed by Giorgio Bruno, is a supernatural horror film following a sound engineer, Alex (Jonathan Tufvesson), who records voices from the dead while shooting a documentary. As Alex struggles to figure out what the voices want or are warning him about, danger escalates. The film checks some horror boxes thanks to tension and decent scares. But sadly, the movie lacks a cohesive story. There is far too much confusion and mid-road acting. At the end of They Talk, I seesawed between “this part is scary” and “what happened.”
Ty West’s X follows a group of filmmakers making a pornographic film in rural Texas unbeknownst to the elderly couple renting them the cabin. When the couple discovers the truth, the group priority shifts from moviemaking to survival. X taps into the nostalgia for classic older horror films and, through some subversion, surprises audiences like memorable classics. Ty West directs a horror that moves beyond simple slaughter. He expands into a broader discussion of religion, sexuality, and gender, thereby making X a slasher joyride with something more to say.
Parts of the film may be so bad it is good as there is a lot that inspires laughter because the effects are lackluster, the acting hit-and-miss with weak dialogue, landing this as a solid B horror film.