Leaving the big screen movie experience behind has been a pretty regret-free lifestyle change. Occasionally, I still step into the theater and apply for a payday loan to buy popcorn and a drink. Then I face people who can't enjoy a movie without instagramming their perfect life every 7 minutes. For the record, it isn't just millennials either. Once or twice a year in a theater is all I can handle. After that, Netflix without the Chill is my preferred movie entertainment method. They are especially doing Halloween right.
This year, Netflix produced a trio of Halloween movies that are entertaining, spooky, and a totally WTF weird. There are plenty of other films on the blood streaming site, but these three new releases are the leading demons of my future, delightful nightmares. Let's review some murderous demi-god teens, 120 PSI cranial slashes, and crab walking errors in resurrection attempts.
Based on Japanese Anime, Death Note is more suspense than horror, although it is horror enough. It focuses on a high school student, his new gal pal and their discovery of a notebook. All they need is the name of a person they can picture in their minds. Put it in the book and it ends them in the manner of the writer's choosing. If only Nicholas Sparks's novel would have included this plot twist. Of course, the notebook comes with a catch, or in this case, a large set of rules and a demon named Riot (Pronounced Ree-Oh).
Determined to use the book only to destroy evildoers, they create a messianic figure that gains worldwide fame and the target of an eccentric, genius investigator with his own comic book history. Thus begins a cat and mouse game made more complex with a budding romance, heartbreaking betrayals, and parental issues.
Wonderful twists and turns and an escaped futility make this a very watchable and strange story. You'll have to overlook the plot holes; I'm still wondering who cleaned up the mess in the classroom. To help with that, they give you Willem Dafoe as the demon. The has man has built a second career out of his Green Goblin laugh. It's perfect for this film.
I love a good horror comedy. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil and Sean Of The Dead are among my favs, but Paranorman tops my list as hilarious, spooky, and weird. I could go on all day about how it's one of those supposedly kid friendly films that is actually scarring. You just never notice it because you're laughing the whole time.
The Babysitter, on the other hand is a film featuring pre-teens that is definitely for adults. It is a great contender to one of the top films in this genre. It's hero is a logic intensive nerd who's anxiety makes him a target of bullies and the reason his parents run away frequently even though he is their only child. He finds salvation in his teen fantasy of babysitter, played by Samara Weaving. She carries sexual energy for all of Wes Craven's films. Unfortunately he discovers her one flaw and spends the rest of the show evading attacks from the entourage of hot satanists, and finds his courage along the way.
I'm about to get hottied to death.
The film opens with one of my greatest fears: needles. My dental work is woefully insufficient because of needles. My flu risk is always higher due to needles. My risk of heroin overdose is nil because of f***ing needles. Sticking around for the round sticking took a little effort. The payoff was worth it.
It's use of exaggerated blood spurts are hilarious, but what makes it best are the red herrings directing you to the common horror tropes. They don't turn out how you'd expect and they twist the story to surprise the viewer. It adds a weird vibe and makes this a movie you have to see rather than have it explained to you.
Also, Bella Thorne's character adds great comedy as a bullet to her chest results in the best of first world worries. It's refreshing to see a product of the Disney starlet machine take a slow burn route to adulthood where feature films are concerned. I take away a point from Netflix for featuring her as the star in their promotional material. She's not, but her supporting role is gold standard money.
The Void is the definitive watchable WTF movie of the three. If the other entries are films you have experience rather than being described, this film requires the experience and several blogs to understand. You really don't know what is happening till near the end, or what you think is the end. While you're trying to figure it out, bizarre creatures appear on occasion and fighting them provides enough blood colored corn syrup for the gore lovers.
The realization of what is happening doesn't provide the pleasing symmetry that you might get from a good M. Night Shyamalan film; if you can remember that far back. Instead it raises more questions.
What really sets it apart in it's WTF is the is the futuristic KKK look of the cultists who are pretty bad at knife work, but seem well practiced in their choreography. The movie never really addresses them in sufficient detail. Are they townsfolk? Are they just in for the weekend? Do triangles really help with the peripheral vision?
The last scene especially leaves a question mark about what it means. The movie was a great watch. It's intense with jump scares and nightmarish monsters. It just gets more wacked as it progresses. That's not a bad thing, it's just a weird thing. Try to watch it and if you do understand it, hit me up with its subtextual meaning.
On second thought, don't. I'm not into this season for philosophical or political reasons. It's Halloween, not Columbus Day. Seriously, don't bother me about the anime based film using American actors. I'm here for the scare and the story and don't have time to build an addition on my home for your safe space. Just pass me my Native American Headdress costume and let me enjoy some creative, grown-up cosplay already. Or am I the only one who got this as the message from The Purge? Probably so. Let's forget it and eat some candy courtesy of your local obesity clinic.
You may need to add another week to your horror movie fest for these three films. Or better yet, just put them on around mid-December when all that peace on earth and good will towards men stuff begins to get on your nerves.