#Alive

NEET of the Living Dead

One of #Alive’s most welcome assets is its knowledge that its audience has seen plenty of zombie movies, and thus doesn’t spend any more time than necessary before things go haywire.  The movie hits the ground running, only lasting a few minutes before the inevitable outbreak; just long enough for us to get a brass-tacks introduction to Oh Joon-woo (Ah-In Yoo), a twentysomething slacker living in his parents’ apartment.  Home by himself when the pandemic hits, he watches powerlessly from his fourth-floor Juliette balcony as sprinting, ravenous zombies devour the residents of his neighborhood.  Securely barricaded in the apartment, he tries to contact his family and find a way to get rescued.  But Joon-woo’s food and water are in short supply, putting an expiration date on his isolated haven.

Continue reading

Deep Blue Sea (1999)

deep blue sea

Shark-Witted

Jaws is the best shark movie; this is not up for debate.  What is up for debate is the still-prestigious mantle of the second-best shark movie.  While the oft-cited Open Water and The Shallows are formidable contenders, my pick for the true heir to the post-Jaws throne is 1999’s Deep Blue Sea. Continue reading

Sputnik

sputnik

Red Scares

Despite its name, Sputnik is not a space-set horror movie.  Most of it takes place on Earth, within the confines of a claustrophobic military laboratory.  We open aboard a Russian satellite, with two Soviet cosmonauts preparing for their descent back to Earth.  After technical trouble and a run-in with an unseen creature, the spacecraft crash lands on Earth, with Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) the sole survivor. Continue reading

13 Sins (2014)

13 sins

The Most Dangerous Game

Elliot Brindle (Mark Webber) is in a bad place.  Already riddled with debts and caring for his mentally disabled brother (Devon Graye), Elliot gets fired from his insurance sales job for not being cutthroat enough.  With a cranky father (Tom Bower) to house and a baby on the way, things don’t look good.  But just when he seems to be out of options, Elliot receives a mysterious call from an anonymous voice who knows all about Elliot’s financial struggles. Continue reading

Hannibal (2001)

hannibal

Hungry for More

There’s no question that The Silence of the Lambs is a great movie.  The makers of Hannibal certainly think so; otherwise they wouldn’t invoke its memory every chance they get.  It’s a quality that’s oddly ahead of its time, portending modern sequels like Jurassic World and The Force Awakens that get most of their mileage from milking their beloved predecessors.  Hannibal’s most shameless reference is the title character’s multiple utterances of the famous line, “Hello, Clarice,” which was never actually said in The Silence of the Lambs but plowed its way into pop culture history anyway.  The charitable interpretation of this Mandela effect-made-real is that it’s a knowing joke on the part of the filmmakers, though it’s easier to dismiss it – and the rest of Hannibal’s blatant throwbacks – as pandering. Continue reading

You Should Have Left

You should have left

Bacon and Cheese

At first glance, You Should Have Left seems to be a by-the-book haunted house movie.  It certainly checks plenty of the boxes: the isolated and mysterious vacation home, the precocious child in tune with the supernatural, the sinister presence that grows more and more tangible.  But writer/director David Koepp has more on his mind than weaving a workmanlike horror yarn, attempting – with varying degrees of success – to add a more serious dramatic element to the proceedings. Continue reading

Anaconda (1997)

anaconda

Snake Charmer

As an avid fan of killer-animal movies, one thing I’ve learned is that they are shockingly easy to fuck up.  For every Deep Blue Sea there are a dozen Shark Nights, for every Alligator countless Primevals.  But within the pantheon of trashy creature features, my favorite has to be Anaconda.  The movie has never enjoyed the warmest of receptions – its critical response was mixed at best, and it’s often used as a bad-movie punchline – and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s unapologetically cheesy, old-fashioned, and lowbrow.  But I believe that Anaconda’s true intended audience is the die-hard fans of its genre, and for those of us in that group it’s an absolute corker. Continue reading

The Descent (2005)

The-Descent

What Dies Beneath

Though it enjoys a positive reputation as such, The Descent can only be called a monster movie with a major caveat.  Like The Blair Witch before it, it wrings at least half – if not more – of its horror from its ominous setting.  In this case, it’s the labyrinthine caves of North Carolina, an alien, impossibly dark environment that’s one of the movie’s most indelible characters. Continue reading

The Platform

the platform

Hole Foods

One of Netflix’s latest film releases, Spanish sci-fi/horror movie The Platform is enjoying a minor splash on the streaming giant, which is the most one can hope for in the reign of Tiger King.  Though never stated outright, the movie is presumably set in the future, where the shadowy “Administration” runs a sadistic institution that’s half prison, half social experiment. Continue reading

The Hunt

p16829734_i_h8_aa

Postal Elites

The Hunt is most notable for its cancellation and postponement, brought on by either mass shootings or the president’s tweets, depending on who you ask (in either case, it’s a decision the studio undoubtedly is regretting now).  But now that it’s finally being released, does Craig Zobel’s violent satire live up to the controversy?  Well, yes and no. Continue reading