Spooktober Week 2: They Look Like Spooks

Well, the inevitable happened. Despite our best efforts, Mark and I both tested positive for covid. And while it meant we couldn’t go to work, spend time with family/friends/each other, or do much of anything without breaking into a coughing fit, it did mean I had lots of time to watch movies. Since Mark and I tested positive at different times and are recovering at different rates, we have been isolating from one another. In dividing up the house, I was lucky enough to get the downstairs – meaning I got to watch my movies on the big screen TV. Unfortunately, that comes with having to sleep on the couch and not having easy access to the shower.

So buckle up for this week’s Spooktober movie review – because all I’ve done this past week is watch movies.

Finn is dress as a pirate for Halloween
Whereas Bubs knows he’s a snack

Backcountry (2014): I spent most of this movie wondering why Netflix had filed this away under horror. And then the bear showed up. This mediocre survival movie was elevated by a truly disturbing and horrific scene. I understand this film was inspired by a true story, so not too much could be changed in the overall plot, but I sure wish there had been more of that spine chilling horror present in more than just one scene.

5 out of 10 Black Bears

The Swarm (2021): Based on the movie description, I was fully expecting this to be a simple horror flick with an angry swarm of locusts – like the last 10 minutes of the film. But this was so much more. Once the real horror crept in to this slow burn, I loved that it delivered the unexpected. The locusts themselves were not the main villain of the piece, but rather the woman whose obsession with them meant she would do anything to have her locust business succeed.

7 out of 10 Buckets of Blood

Nailed it! Season 7: Halloween (2022): First of all, I’m disappointed that there were only 4 episodes in this new season. This is the perfect thing to binge when I need some fluff – especially when I’m home sick. It was also odd that 3 of the episodes were inspired by popular Netflix shows, whereas the last one was just a standard Halloween theme. It’s the same, silly fun I was hoping for, but the structure of this season was inconsistent.

7 out of 10 Ruined Cakes

Random Acts of Violence (2019): Despite the title, I would argue that only one of the many violent acts in this film was truly random. And even that was clearly pre-meditated. Although the victims may have been random for some of the murders, everything was specifically targeted towards the protagonist. The overall concept was interesting, and I loved the use of bold colours to create a striking comic book style, but something was lacking. The last 20 minutes of the film felt disjointed compared to the rest. And after the first triple-murder, the rest seemed lackluster. Everything just needed to be pushed a bit further. Given the parallels to comic books, I would have loved to have seen more over the top violence, something that looked like it leapt off a page rather than coming from real life.

5 out of 10 Misleading Titles

The Block Island Sound (2020): The way this story was going, I was really hoping for some kind of eldritch horror. I kept waiting for that voila movement with a tentacled, Lovecraftian sea-beast. I was not at all expecting aliens. And although the reason behind the strange goings on was heavy handed, especially during the epilogue, the events themselves were delightfully unsettling. The hallucination of the dead father was fantastic and they really cast a good actor for that role. But I am docking points because I didn’t get a Cthulhu out of this.

7 out of 10 Girl… Girl… Girl…

Laura Hasn’t Slept (2020): In this short film, I knew exactly what was coming, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I could see the “twist” and jump scare coming from a mile away, but since the story didn’t waste any of its 11 minutes, it was still entertaining and engaging. Now I really can’t wait to watch Smile (2022). Hopefully the full length feature inspired by the short doesn’t disappoint.

8 out of 10 Bad Dreams

Prom Night (1980): This classic has lots of suspense, too much disco, and not a whole lot of action. Two thirds of the way through the film I was still waiting for someone to get slashed. And when it did finally happen, it wasn’t even that gory, scary, or impactful. The second prom night killing was much better though, and the story picked up for me after that. I’ve heard so many good things about this movie that it was a bit of a letdown to finally watch it.

4 out of 10 Dances with Your Dad/The Principal

Prom Night (2008): Although the premise behind the killings is vastly different from the original, it does mean that Donna is in a better position to become the Final Girl than Kimberly was. Whereas Kimberly felt randomly inserted into the story, the whole plot of this remake revolves around Donna. This also means there is a higher body count as there is more indiscriminate killing. However, this could have been way gorier. Between the common slasher tropes, the simplistic storyline, and the fact that Donna is the perfect “everyman” who looks like every second girl I went to high school with in 2008, there is nothing special about this movie. 110% more blood and gore could have made this something worth re-watching.

4 out of 10 Plain Old Stabbings

They Look Like People (2015): I would have loved more ambiguity in this. Between the intriguing premise and story structure, it leant itself well to the kind of mind-bending battle of “is it real or all in his head” that I was hoping for. And if the goal was to make it clear that Wyatt was imagining/hallucinating everything, he should have been more of a threat to those around him. With the exception of the final scene, the stakes were too low. I wanted this movie to make me uncomfortable and it didn’t.

5 out of 10 Nail Guns

Lady Vengeance (2005): So, this is not a horror movie. But after learning about the revenge scene on Voir (2021), I figured this would be some good, horrific content for this time of year. The first half of the film is decent, but once that mid-point shift occurs and we get to the meatier part of the revenge portion of the film, that’s where the horror sets in. The hardest part is seeing those parents watch the video tapes of what happened to their children. Their subsequent revenge on the murderer is why I wanted to watch this film. And that one scene was worth it.

7 out of 10 Key Chains

Flight 7500 (2014): This movie made it to my list after watching a TikTok of underrated horror movies. I was advised to go in blind and not even look at the trailer. And with a low rating online, I hoped I would be pleasantly surprised by this one. I was! Despite the fact that all of the characters are two dimensional stereotypes, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was entertaining, there were high stakes, and there was suspense and horror. And even though I figured out the twist ending before it happened, I still enjoyed the big reveal. Not a masterpiece by any means, but underrated for sure.

6 out of 10 Characters you hope suffer when the horror kicks in

Ichi the Killer (2001): I had heard this film delivered some pretty intense body horror, and boy did it ever! Although the over-the-top violence is not out of place in a story about gangsters, this level of horror and gore is unexpected. And since the story itself is rather simplistic overall, it means the blood and guts take center stage. But despite all the wtf moments, at times I felt like the film was running too long. Although that could be because the already 2+ hour run time was lengthened thanks to the ads I had to sit through from watching it on Plex. Since some of the gore and violence was so outrageous, I have mixed feelings about the ending of the film. It worked, but I was expecting more of an epic/weird battle with more gruesome injuries.

6 out of 10 Tempura Shrimp

The Innkeepers (2011): I was told this was a slow burn with big payoff, and that was an accurate assessment. When I figured out who the old man was (right from the start, I might add), I was worried this would have a sappy “happily ever after” type ending where the ghost is reunited with her lover. That is not at all what happened. When the “Epilogue” title popped up, I was shocked that that’s how the film ended. It was surprising, frustrating, and had me wondering if what happened to the protagonist was intentional or accidental.

7 out of 10 Inhalers

X (2022): A film that spent more of it’s focus on the sex than the gore. The story and the recurring imagery were interesting, and I would love to see the prequel Pearl (2022). However, the final killing spree and final girl battle just missed the mark for me. The killings were bad or badly done, I just couldn’t put my finger on what was lacking. Given that Pearl was released about 6 months after X, I get the feeling they’re meant to be companion films and that I might get even more out of the overall story once I’ve seen both of them. Guess I’ll just have to wait till the prequel comes my way to find out.

6 out of 10 Televangelists

Titane (2021): What the fuck did I just watch? Don’t get me wrong, the movie was good. But what the actual fuck? Now after the killing spree in the first act, act 2 had me wondering how the film classified as horror or sci-fi, third act certainly established those genres. For me, pregnancy is always a great and unsettling source of body horror. And the science fiction aspects… Well, we have those unforgettable sex scenes to thank for that. A friend recently sent me a meme titled “She had sex with what?!” that featured movie posters of films with “unique” sexual relationships. This poster for this French film was on that meme. And when the scene in question came up… To say I was caught off guard was an understatement.

6 out of 10 Messed Up Relationships

Umma (2022): Speaking of messed up relationships… As someone who uses intergenerational trauma as inspiration for my own writing, I appreciate when it shows up as a theme in horror. Unfortunately, this movie felt rushed. It was always onto the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing. There wasn’t a chance to breathe between beats, or a chance to hold your breath during the scares. Since everything was rushed, there was no buildup of suspense, so the scares weren’t as terrifying as they could have been. Personally, I feel that with changes in editing, the film could have been a lot stronger and a lot scarier.

5 out of 10 Angry Mothers

Mimic (1997): I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch some classic Guillermo Del Torro this spooky season. It’s clearly his darker pre Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) style, but it was interesting to see stylistic similarities between this and The Shape of Water (2017). Clearly, I’m a fan of his work, so I knew I was going to enjoy this before I even pressed play. And once I started watching, I did really enjoy it. Now, some of the tropes are a little outdated, but this is a fabulous creature feature. I especially appreciated the camera work used when the insects were mimicking people so that you could never actually see them properly, and therefore could not tell by sight alone that they did not belong.

8 out of 10 Long Johns

Maggie (2015): This movie is depressing. It is a unique take on a zombie film – something I look forward to as I am not always a fan of zombie movies – but it is sad. It’s roughly an hour and a half of watching a young girl come to terms with the fact that she has a terminal illness. And as if that’s not hard enough, we have to watch her father figure out how best to end her life. There are wonderful characters and relationships, and the story is moving, but it is difficult to watch. I do recommend watching it, but you have to be in the right headspace.

7 out of 10 Daisies

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Deep Ones (2020): I love cheesy, low budget horror films as much as the next cinephile, but my expectations for this one plummeted when a blinding light radiated from a pregnant woman’s vulva while an unsuspecting man was hypnotized with a lighter. And that’s not even the weirdest part of this film. But for Lovecraftian horror on a budget, am I really surprised? No. But not even the rubber tentacles could save this mess. Actually, maybe more rubber tentacles would have been an improvement.

3 out of 10 Fire shows known to make women fertile just at the sight of it

The Final Wish (2019): At this point, I’ve seen enough “be careful what you wish for” horror movies that this one did not feel unique or interesting enough to entirely hold my attention. I did like how the jinn appeared both in its “human” form and its true form, but it’s not exactly a memorable movie monster. Obviously, Lin Shaye and Tony Todd stole the show, and their acting made up for the lackluster performances from the rest of the cast.

4 out of 5 Totally Innocent Estate Sales

Tormented (2014): A basic “night of babysitting gone wrong” kind of story with nothing all that special about it. Honestly, with everything that poor girl went through before the horror started, I was really hoping she was going to snap and become the killer. And unfortunately, the only satisfying parts of the film were when she a) stood up to the jerk who abused her, and b) when he got what he deserved at the hands of the bad guys. Although I guess the reveal of who was on the other end of the phone was an interesting, if unoriginal, twist. Overall, just meh.

3 out of 10 Pig Masks

Don’t Blink (2014): This was a great premise for a lower budget film as it did not require fancy effects to pull off the scares and build suspense. However, I will say that some of the camera angles felt a little forced, and in those moments it was too easy to figure out who was going to disappear next. I loved that they didn’t explain why everything was happening, as that would have ruined the effect, but there were quite a number of plot holes I would have like addressed. Like how did that guy survive the first time if he fell in a ditch? What did the weather have to do with anything? And those are just the two big ones.

5 out of 10 Robert Picardo Cameos

Hostile (2017): I almost gave up on this one, but toughed it out because Javier Botet plays the Reaper. And yes, he delivered the best performance in the entire film. I love the survival horror genre, and the way in which the protagonist was trapped was interesting, but her flashbacks were not. I could not stand the forced romantic backstory that didn’t add all that much to the main plot. (Well, except when things got weird at the end). Maybe if the actors had better chemistry, it would have made it more bearable. And then I realized: Hey, I can skip the backstory! So I fast forwarded every time that came up and stuck to the main horror story instead. It made the film so much better. With the exception of the rather disappointing ending. I’m at that point where I’ve watched so many movies back to back while I’m stuck at home sick that if it doesn’t capture my attention, I’m probably not going to watch it.

4 out of 10 Disturbingly Thin Fingers

The Corridor (2011): This was a very interesting take on how toxic masculinity affects male relationships. Unfortunately, the special effects left much to be desired. Sometimes low budget effects can look good, but the lighting and texture of the corridor detracted from some of the more serious scenes. And it only got worse. By the time I got to that cheesy ending with the characters being pulled through the light, it was hard to take the subject matter seriously. Visually, it just needed to be cleaned up a bit more so that the story and themes could shine through.

4 out of 10 Horrific Toupees

Untitled Horror Movie (2021): Based on the release date of this film, I’m going to take a guess that this movie was born out of the pandemic. This might seem bleak, but I actually really enjoy seeing how the pandemic has affected filmmaking. And this is an easy and effective way to tell a story while dealing with covid restrictions. Although this horror comedy had it humorous moments, I never really found it funny. And I think that’s what was lacking in this story. The simple scares were there, and there was enough silliness peppered throughout so that you never took anything too seriously, but I feel like this film could have benefited from some more comedy.

5 out of 10 Pendulums

Observance (2015): I kept waiting for something that would make this mess of horrific imagery and uncomfortable soundscapes come together, but that moment never happened. The mood was always well established, but the characters and plot were not. I had more questions at the end of the film than I did in the beginning, and not in a good way. This could have been something really spine chilling if the story had made more sense.

3 out of 10 Voices in the Static

Black Friday (2021): A horror comedy with Bruce Campbell? Yes please! This is a pretty standard survive-the-night kind of story with stereotypical characters and situations, but it’s a lot of fun. And the creature makeup and special effects are surprisingly decent. I think what resonates with this film is that there are a number of speeches that will hit home for anyone in retail and/or customer facing jobs. This kind of work – especially in a Black Friday kind of situation – can be hell, and this story rightfully pokes fun at that.

6 out of 10 Entitled Monst- I mean, customers. 6 out of 10 customers.

Pay the Ghost (2015): One of the things I love about films starring Nicholas Cage is that there are never any surprises. You know the kind of story you’re going to get, and the level of acting you can expect. It’s entertaining, and sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised. That’s exactly what I got out of this movie. Plus, it was an interesting concept with some pretty decent jump scares.

6 out of 10 Burnt Autopsies

Willard (1971): In the same way that I don’t find movies about spiders scary, I did not find Willard scary because I am not afraid of rats. But I’m sure this film has the potential to make a number of people uncomfortable. Most of the story is buildup so that we can see how downtrodden Willard gets before he snaps and sicks his rats on his boss. But what he does to those rats after… Well, I was delighted when the lead rat Ben led the charge against their former master.

6 out of 10 Rats

Ben (1972): This sequel to Willard was mostly fluff in the form of songs written and performed by the pint-sized protagonist of this film, a sickly little boy almost as downtrodden as his predecessor. In between the musical numbers are scenes of rats tearing up the town like the gremlins in Gremlins 2 (1990). Again, this would be terrifying to someone who is actually afraid of rats. Unfortunately, I found them too cute to take them seriously a villains in this creature feature.

4 out of 10 Rat Puppets

Related Posts

Don't Miss Out!

Free Stories, updates on my writing, as well as sales and promotions