I am a self-proclaimed Reaction Whore™. When it comes to showing people films that I love, I strive to provoke an evocative response, be it shock and awe, fear, or laughter. Malignant garners all of the above in one bonkers package. Directed by horror master James Wan, I was initially perplexed by the B-movie schlock it presents. The film’s opening borders on camp and reminded me of 1999’s House on Haunted Hill. The melodrama is almost tangible in the cold, damp house where protagonist Madison resides, and the plot screams direct-to-video. But the gag is, dear reader, that this film knows exactly what it’s doing, and once you understand this, you are in for a wild ride.
The film centers on the aforementioned Madison, whose life is upended by murders she presumes to be committed by her childhood imaginary friend, Gabriel. Its plot maneuvers through themes and topics of spousal abuse, astral projection, hot cops named Kekoa, the gray morality of science, bad wigs, and ultimately lands on the patriarchal control men have over women and their bodies. And while Malignant certainly toys with these ideas, its ultimate purpose is to reveal to us a twist and climax like no other: Gabriel is not Madison’s imaginary friend. He is an extreme teratoma attached to the back of her head from birth, which remained dormant in her skull until a recent violent altercation with her now murdered husband set him free.
Yes, it is the mother of all Reaction Whore™ moments. The crowning achievement, however, is that this information is revealed while Madison is imprisoned in a holding cell with a dozen other women wherein Gabriel unleashes a bloody reckoning upon them in a moment that can only be described as “backward John Wick.” So please, don’t shame my cinematic promiscuity. I’m only trying to spread the wealth.
The Fear Street Trilogy
Not since Kill Bill and The Matrix released their respective parts within six months of one another have I had the pleasure to enjoy such a rapid-fire release schedule of a film series. Dished out on Netflix over the course of a few weeks in the height of the summer, The Fear Street Trilogy became an event in the style of the Movie of the Week that we rarely get to experience in today’s binge culture.
The trilogy tells the tale of the curse of the supposed 17th-century witch, Sarah Fier (I see what they did there), that looms over the town of Shadyside. Its overarching plot focuses on a group of teens in the phosphorescent-infused Fear Street: 1994 who are inexplicably linked to the curse and its murderous rampage. The following two films bring us further back to the washed-out nostalgia of a summer camp in Fear Street: 1978, and finally to the early American settlers of Fear Street: 1666 to delve deeper into the history of the curse and why exactly people are transforming into vicious killers, Evil Dead style.
Knowing Fear Street is based on a young adult book series of the same name, I honestly did not have high expectations going in. I was surprised with how much these films lean into their R rating, violently setting the bar high with the first kill and not letting up through three gruesome supernatural slashers worth of carnage. They also cleverly take a page from American Horror Story and retain key members of the cast to play different characters in each film. The result gave me all the feels as I grew to care for these actors and their well-developed characters right up until they were snatched from my heart in a series of kills that stand up to some of the better slashers out there. Fear Street: 1978, my favorite of the trio, ends in an especially brutal and tragic sequence between two sisters that left my jaw on the ground.
Netflix served up a thrilling summer indulgence this year, and I invite them to try it again sometime.
French filmmaker, Julia Ducournau, delivered one of the most unexpected films on the 2021 bingo card: Titane. A bizarre story on love and human evolution, it follows a dancer with a steel plate in her head who moonlights as a serial killer, is impregnated by a car, and flees her crimes to disguise herself as a man’s decade-long missing son, which then results in the pair finding unconditional love in one another and the human/machine hybrid child she births into the world.
Much can be said concerning Titane’s sophisticated themes and grotesque imagery, and perhaps that’s why it stood out to me. To take such an absurd premise and skillfully track the journey of a woman quite literally made of steel and detached from her humanity, who finds love and acceptance with a similarly lost stranger, is a thing of art. The cold steel of Titane melted away, as did my mind, by the time the credits rolled.
It Came From Shudder: December Edition
It’s the first Friday of December! You know what that means, it’s time to share a small selection of movies that we’ve watched, or are looking forward to watching on Shudder. Look, we get it, Shudder serves up tons of content and it’s constantly adding new stuff to its catalog. So we’re here to help you with a handful of recommendations.
What to watch on Shudder this Month
A Wounded Fawn
This trailer caught my eye from the start. From what I gather, it’s about a woman who goes on a weekend getaway with a man she’s been seeing who happens to be a serial killer. Starring Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben, this movie looks very suspenseful… and weird? I can’t wait to watch this and get to the bottom of all the weird visuals sprinkled into the trailer.
Christmas Bloody Christmas
Directed by Joe Begos, this movie takes place on Christmas Eve and pits a record store owner against a violent homicidal robot Santa Claus. Yes, I know how that sounds, and yes, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome. The trailer looks so colorful, and it immediately transported me to my second most favorite time of the year, Christmas. Robo-Santa Plus looks brutal and over the top, two things I love in my horror. Christmas Bloody Christmas is available to stream on Shudder starting December 9th.
Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge
If you’re a fan of horror anthologies like we, then you’re going to love Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge. The highly anticipated sequel to fan favorite Scare Package follows Rad Chad’s funeral, where attendees must survive death traps based on Chad’s favorite movies.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Shudder outdid themselves this time. Bringing us not just A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the entire collection! Do yourself a favor and rewatch these movies immediately, because I can guarantee you it’s been too long since the last time you did. As a bonus make sure to give Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street a watch. Seeing Nightmare on Elm Street 2 actor Mark Patton’s perspective and experience as a gay actor makes for some of the most touching, compelling TV in recent memory.
Joe Bob’s Goultide Get-Together
Live streaming Friday, December 16th at 9 PM Eastern on Shudder TV. This holiday-themed episode will surely be filled with fun facts, awesome interviews, and a double feature that will have us all tweeting in excitement. As of now, we have no idea which movies will play and that’s half the fun! The other half? Guessing Darcy’s cosplays for the night. If you have never participated in a Joe Bob live stream, make sure you tune in on time and have Twitter ready to engage! It’s a good time. If you happen to miss the live stream, no worries! The episode will be available to stream later on in the weekend.
Next time you’re looking for something to watch on Shudder, make sure to stream these titles!
There’s News Down in Newville: ‘The Mean One’ (Horror-Parody of ‘The Grinch’) Trailer Has Arrived
As the release of The Grinch horror parody draws near, The Mean One trailer is finally here!
David Howard Thornton, who has recently skyrocketed in popularity due to his fantastic performance as Art the Clown in the Terrifier films, plays the titular “Mean One.” Given his previous success with making a monster that can be as entertaining as terrifying, he is a perfect match for the role of the antagonist in this Christmas horror comedy.
Directed by Steven Lamorte, the film follows a grown-up Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin) who witnessed her mother be murdered by the Christmas-hating green monster years prior. As the trailer shows Cindy arming herself with weapons, Krystle Martin’s character promises to make for a badass female lead.
One marked difference between this film and its source material is that it gives us a monster amongst humans rather than a creature amongst other creatures. Judging by the trailer, that will be far from the only difference offered by the horror parody of the Dr. Seuss Christmas favorite.
He may not stop Christmas from coming, but he will make it his own.
Check out The Mean One in theaters on December 9th!