Spooktober Day 24: Sinister

For most of us cinephiles, we remember the first time we saw a movie, whether it be in the theater, or at home. If the film shakes you, positively or negatively, there’s a residue left that seeps into your memory and makes it challenging to let go. Well, I don’t want to- so I’m going to highlight some Kristy horror history for this wonderful, special, month of October.

I’m someone that has always been fascinated with the idea of fear. As I’ve spoken about before here, as well as on my podcast, it’s a curious thing. I’ve seldom really felt scared from horror films, moments perhaps (and I don’t mean the intended jump-scare sort that is mere ploy not true fear) but I very rarely leave a film discomforted. One of the only movies in my adult-life that I can confidently say did this for me was Sinister and for that reason alone, I’ve just got to talk about it.

source: Summit Entertainment

Part of what makes Sinister chilling, despite some of its cliches and required suspension of disbelief, is the fact that it’s a home video -found footage sort of film, and yet it isn’t. Our main character is finding these, experiencing what an audience would – had it been entirely that way, so we also get to witness the discomfort as he watches. It’s a double dose of fear and reactionary unease.

Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, an author of true crime, who relocates his family, wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance), and his children, Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) and Ashley (Clare Foley), to a home that was the location of a set of victims, in hopes to figure out what happened and to nab his next bestseller.

Ellison isn’t necessarily the most likable of leads, after all, he seems selfish in his motives despite what this may do to his family, but he’s most certainly determined. You can give him that. Sinister definitely has its fair share of jump scares, eerie twists, and moments where you want to yell at the screen, and yet- even if it isn’t perfect, I find it to be one of the scariest of its sort to come out.

Most of the film takes place in the home, taking this singular location and finding new ways to frame or illuminate a room or hallway. For a while, Sinister feels like a mystery, suited to the true-crime genre our main character dwells in, but soon, other strange things begin to happen, including the introduction to the creepiest Super 8 tapes you’ll ever watch. Soon, it veers into the unexplained, unnatural variety, linking so many murders and deaths that Ellison is in over his head.

source: Summit Entertainment

Director Scott Derrickson wields the talent of his lead, uses lessons from horrors past, and a keen eye for what makes a viewer tremble, and crafts something legitimately creepy. Once it starts on its path to scare, it becomes relentless. There’s something to the baddie, the lore of Bughuul that feels especially evil, making the title perfectly named.

Genuinely chilling, working hard to make you squirm, Sinister is a perfect watch for this spooky time of year.

Spooktober Day 22: The Lost Boys

For most of us cinephiles, we remember the first time we saw a movie, whether it be in the theater, or at home. If the film shakes you, positively or negatively, there’s a residue left that seeps into your memory and makes it challenging to let go. Well, I don’t want to- so I’m going to highlight some Kristy horror history for this wonderful, special, month of October.

I’ve covered so many different kinds of films this month, and somehow- we are already nearing the end (and I have so much left to say!) There have been a few horror comedies to slip their way through, and while there are many more I could touch on, I figured I’d exit that subgenre with one that really is its own species. This vampire horror/comedy has its issues but is a hell of a lot of fun.

The Lost Boys has an assortment of young stars at its helm. Before Twilight, this was the iconic young vampire flick (at least to me) with a lineup of 80s stars.

Joel Schumacher‘s takes us to Santa Carla (the murder capital of the world!) as brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move with their newly divorced mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest). It doesn’t take long for the brothers to get introduced to the local sites, the local myths, and of course the local gang led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). To aid in the assistance of getting to know the area, Sam mingles with the Frog brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) local comic-book specialists and experts on the local vampire lore, while Michael meets the beautiful, enchanting, Star (Jami Gertz). Michael’s attraction to Star leads him to David’s attention, and before he knows it, he’s made a possibly irreversible mistake

source: Warner Bros.

Part satire, part comedy, part mystery, part supernatural horror (though there’s very little actual “chills”) The Lost Boys is a staple of its time, and of culture, in a way that’s hard to replicate. I find it to be a comfort watch, no matter how many times I see it. Sometimes it makes me laugh more than it should or more than initially intended, but that is also the beauty. There’s some great makeup design, and while the plot can be thin at times, the fact that this vampire story is not alluring is admirable. By the time Michael realizes what he’s gotten himself into, he is not only horrified but does everything he can to fight it. This isn’t sexy, this isn’t appealing, this is forever young- and terrible.

“If all the corpses buried around here were to stand up all at once we’d have one hell of a population problem.”

At only 97 minutes it’s a tight film, wasting no time diving right into the gory end. It truly breezes by making it easy to commit to, and even easier to forgive its flaws. The character relationships whether it’s the bond of siblings, mother and sons, new romances, or friendships, are also at the forefront, always giving us a deeper meaning even when the story is cast in leather jackets, dazzling lights, and hilarious dialogue.

source: Warner Bros.

As if the cast wasn’t already stacked Edward Herrmann also has a memorable role. Overall, the casting is really impressive, as well as the time-capsule vibe that feels like it’s just emitting 80s every time you pop the top. It has its moments of savvy, even if it has plenty of silly too, making it an amalgamation that stems beyond just nostalgia but into pop culture icon territory. There is a liveliness to it with its colorful boardwalk, interesting vampiric lair, and costume designs that make it stand out.

The Lost Boys gives an injection of lifeblood into a tired genre that needed some resurrecting at the time. It’s an exhilarating ride, a madcap line of quips and thrills that make it a hard to forget bloody cocktail. This and Fright Night (the original) should both be experienced if one is looking for some 80s vamp flavor. Go on, get your fix.

Malignant (2021): What the…What?

It isn’t news that James Wan is a notably formidable presence in the horror world. While I generally enjoy (most of) his work, I can’t say that I predicted what Malignant would end up being.

If you’re reading this than you must know me or have at least have an indication (from my site name alone) that I’m someone who enjoys being surprised in horror and in the weird. Well, I’m happy to say that all three of these words would come up in a thought bubble when referring to this film. This is a very weird, surprising, horror film.

source: Warner Bros. Pictures

After a horribly traumatic event Madison (Annabelle Wallis) begins seeing strange hallucinations, as if she is there, with people being murdered. The who and what of these visions is eventually explained, but it has her digging into her own past, and questioning reality.

Told in a narrative design that upends as much as it does stall for answers, Malignant takes its time with clarity and then explodes into what I can only describe as the right kind of outrageousness.

It’s a film that isn’t afraid to take risks and doesn’t mind getting encompassed by the strange. The third act is really where it comes to life in absurd wild fashion providing a twist that is really unexpected.

I found myself actually laughing at the first scene where the twist is revealed, both out of surprise and also entertainment. It’s wild in its delivery, but it’s honestly what saved the movie for me. I often wondered after if I wished I could have known early on, but it wouldn’t have been as shocking if I had.

source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Malignant takes on an often dream-like, nearly trippy quality, and plays out some pretty impressive visuals that cascade over even the least flattering parts of the script. Some of the dialogue and by extension, acting, seems a bit off, but one wonders if that was part of Wan‘s decision with the film, which feels at once retro and also new. Often times the film seems to be self-aware and making a remark on itself as much as horror movies in general. As you watch you feel like it’s formulaic, but then comes a heavy swing that has you seeing past the tropes first pitched to you.

Sometimes the pieces don’t completely fit. In fact, they’re tossed at you like discarded notes throughout, but once you tape it all together it -well- still looks whacky, but it at least makes you feel less confused, and giddily intrigued.

It’s memorable, it’s bonkers, it’s Wan but more unhinged than he’s been. And yes, he made Saw. There’s camp, there’s creepy, and there’s most certainly a dose of wait…what? The final act is frenzied, bloodied and unrelenting.

Undoubtedly, Malignant will be a film that doesn’t hit all audiences in the same way. As a movie that embraces its outrageousness with open arms, there’s a admirable quality that may often get looked at as too far reaching, but I dug it.

Malignant is current in theaters and on HBO Max until October 10th

Weekly Watch Recs, (5/3-5/9) The Moms of Horror Edition

There is so much content out there! Any ideas?

For Mother’s Day (and because there isn’t a whole lot of new content I can chime in on) I figured why not make this all about appreciating some of the best Moms in horror!

Let’s face it, there are a lot of amazing mothers in horror’s cinematic inventory. Here’s a just a sampling! I tried to spread it out with different kinds of horror/portrayals (not necessarily favorites) but know- there are so many more!

Disclaimer: A good horror mommy, doesn’t a good “mother” make. Food for thought.

Mother knows best. 😏

source: A24

Hereditary (2018)

Can Toni Collette do wrong? (Said everyone, always, because she’s just so talented, and the answer is no). In Hereditary, she again proves this thought. It’s not an easy endeavor to protect your family from possession, but she gives it the old college try. She goes… full unraveled. Watch for consecutive disturbing reveals.

Available to stream on Showtime or Fubo tv.

source: Universal Pictures

Us (2019)

Lupita Nyong’o, Lupita Nyong’o, Lupita Nyong’o. Isn’t that enough? 😍 If you’ve somehow missed this terrific sophomore directorial effort from Jordan Peele with another spectacular performance from Lupita I would recommend rectifying that ASAP. Also, Lupita Nyong’o, just sayin.

source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Cujo (1983)

Okay, no secret- I love Stephen King. While Cujo might not be the best adaptation of his work (certainly far from the worst) this protective mama is as badass as they come. The always amazing Dee Wallace (here’s your reminder, just in case, watch E.T too) will do anything to protect her child. Give it a watch, and just remember: the dog isn’t real, because they would never do such a horrendous thing. 🙂

Available to stream on AMC+

source: Universal Pictures

People Under the Stairs (1991)

This might seem unexpected, but Wes Craven’s film, which seems to be divisive among most, has one mommy you wouldn’t want to run into (let alone rob from and then get stuck in their twisted house of horror). Wendy Robie plays “Woman” and she’s adequately terrifying throughout this horror/comedy/ outright absurd, film.

Unfortunately, this isn’t currently streaming. Want to borrow my Blu ray? 🙂

source: Entertainment One, Umbrella Entertainment

The Babadook (2015)

Essie Davis plays Amelia, another protective mother, hoping to keep her son away from Mister Babadook. It’s a wonderful, inventive horror with a terrific cast. Creepy? Yes. Awesome? Also yes! Bonus Points. Watch if you dare (just watch it).

Available to stream on AMC+ and DirectV

source: Warner Bros

The Exorcist (1973)

It’s tough to deal with life when your daughter has her head spinning and crawls on the ceiling, but you can say, Ellen Burstyn did her best. Burstyn is incredible, as she grounds this horror in reality, making her performance as a mother concerned, really hit home. Also… Classic!

Available to stream on showtime and Fubo tv.

Also see Mama, Serial Mom, Get Out, Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie, Goodnight Mommy, Friday the 13th, Mommie Dearest, House of 1000 Corpses, Okay, there are a lot! Not to mention— Psycho 😉, Dead Alive, Scream 2, The Others, The Conjuring.

While it’s not exactly a horror, I’d also like to give Terminator 2 a shoutout. And the Queen in Aliens- that bitch is protective. (I have a hard time stopping).

source: 20th Century Fox

Have fun watching! Happy Mother’s Day!

What are some of your favorites? Let me know!

Question 2 (Jessica): What is Your Favorite Pop Figure?

Reader’s Questionswhere I attempt to answer, by video, reader’s questions regarding movies, TV, books, pop culture references, the weird, horrific…whatever 🙂

Please submit any questions you have!

Weekly Watch Recs 4/25-5/2

There is so much content out there! Any ideas?

I won’t regale you with some of the total misfires I experienced this week when watching new content (though one will get its own review this weekend), but I will give a some suggestions!

The Mitchells vs The Machines

source: Netflix

Technology takes over the world and while on a bonding family road trip The Mitchells become unexpected heroes.

The animation is terrific and there are wonderful themes about family, technology, and… MOVIES. 😍 Who doesn’t love a animated tale with equal shares of laugh out loud moments and heart? It may be because I share a real kinship with the lead character, but this was a delightful experience.

You’ll have feels after.

Special shoutouts to all the film references, the Furby throwback, Doug the Pug, Journey album covers and The Shining socks.

Streaming on Netflix

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4

source: Hulu

If you’re a fan and you’ve managed to hang on this long I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but you should watch the newest! I have had *thoughts* on whether or not we need more of this show, and depending on where this goes, I’ll have more. Until then..

While this is a gloomy viewing experience, there are some emotional reunions that really hit home, and some shifts in environment and direction that provides new life. As always, amazingly acted, beautifully shot.

But prepare your emotions accordingly.

Streaming on Hulu with new episodes every Wednesday.

source: Netflix

Bonus: For some strange reason I was late to the game on this one, but I finally watched The Old Guard (on Netflix) and loved it! I would definitely recommend watching Charlize Theron kick ass, any day of the week.

Have you watched these? Let me know your thoughts!