Pre-text: I'm a big fan of the "Scream" franchise...heck, who isn't? The series, with all four previous installment having been directed by the late, legendary horror master, Wes Craven, began in 1996, and not only poked fun at the slasher-horror genre, but transcended it. It was fresh, new and different. Moreover, it was loads of fun.
The original film's success brought about a renaissance of sorts for horror movies, and was followed by "Scream 2" the following year, "Scream 3" in 2000 and "Scream 4" back in 2011. In my review of "Scream 4," I had wrote:
"11 years later for 'Scream 4' seems like the right timing for Scream to return with something worthy of shouting about. With the same sense of style and personality, I could see another Scream movie coming out maybe every 5 to 10 years, to give wry commentary on the state of the genre."
Well at least they got the timing right...then new film, called simply "Scream" and not "Scream 5" as it probably should be, lacks that familiar style and personality that made the others so sharp (pun intended). In a series where the killer is always a copycat, for the first time, this chapter is more "wanna-be" than it is "wants-to-be-good."
Writer/Director/Actor Jim Cummings is one of the more delightfully unique voices emerging in Hollywood. If you haven't seen or heard of his previous films, "Thunder Road" and "The Wolf of Snow Hollow," you're not alone, but do yourself a favor and seek them out.
In "The Beta Test" - co-written, co-directed and co-starring his real-life buddy PJ McCabe - his third independent film is his most biting...a delicious slice of entertainment and intrigue that satisfies as much as it unsettles.
Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy will one day be Oscar-winning actresses...of this, I have no doubt. They are two of the most captivating and talented young actresses in Hollywood and of their generation, and to see them face-off in "Last Night in Soho" is truly a sight to behold.
Edgar Wright ("Baby Driver," "Shaun of the Dead") helms this luscious, intoxicating film with confidence, style and pizzazz. It nearly derails with an abrupt shift from psychological thriller to straight-up horror in its final act, but Wright sticks the landing thanks to his commanding leading ladies.
The first "Escape Room" film dropped with little fanfare back in January of 2019. But the low-budget teen-friendly horror film - capitalizing on the growing popularity of "escape rooms" across the country - was a modest hit, grossing over 150 million worldwide, having been made for under 10 million.
It's star, Taylor Russell, was relatively unknown - and she still is - but Russell is an absolute A-list star in-the-making (mark my words). Her likability and talents raised that first film above other throw-away teen horror films, and her continued presence in this sequel has elevated "Escape Room" to one of the most unlikely, yet entertaining, original IP franchises-in-the-making in recent years.
"The Forever Purge" is the fifth and supposedly final chapter in the Purge franchise, and it has a lot of big ideas it looks to tackle. The saga has expanded its world since the first 2013 film, which took place all at one house. In subsequent chapters, we got to see a wider perspective of the annual 12-hour killing holiday known as "The Purge," where all crime - including murder - is made legal, an outlet which has apparently made America a better place.
The scariest part about "The Forever Purge" is how it tackles some real-world issues, albeit clumsily, presenting a dystopian version of our country that - in the wake of the 1/6 insurrection - doesn't seem all that far-fetched. For the first time in the saga, the events depicted feel like something that could actually happen...it's too bad that the film didn't take a smarter overall approach.
Video games have not translated well into movies. Other than "Sonic the Hedgehog," very few have ever worked. In other words, a great video game doth not maketh a great movie.
The latest example of this is "Werewolves Within," a popular VR (Virtual-Reality) video game by Ubisoft that is being given the big-screen treatment. Caught somewhere between horror and comedy, it works as neither, with the only real scare being in how miserably unfunny it ends up being.
There's no keeping this one quiet: "A Quiet Place Part II" is everything you would hope it would be.
The "Saw" franchise is one of the most successful horror franchises of all-time, having grossed over a billion - with a "b" - since the first film hit theaters back in 2004. "Spiral: From the Book of Saw" is now the ninth film in the series and the first since the 2017 release, "Jigsaw."
The first two films in the series were fresh, unique and clever despite being labeled, perhaps correctly, as "torture porn." But the further we get away from that original pair of films, the more pointless the movies have become. Consequently "Spiral," feels like a copy of of a copy of a copy...an inauthentic wanna-be, much like the new killer it features who is yet again out for some twisted form of vengeance.
Zack Snyder has worked his way into the hearts of millions and is one of the most talked-about directors of the past year. The "Zack Snyder Cut" of "Justice League" that was recently released was well-received and dreamed into fruition by his fervent fan-base. But long before he ever took on The Caped Crusader and his Super-Friends, Snyder cut his teeth on a zombie movie...a George Romero zombie movie no less...the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead." It was Snyder's first feature-film and he returns to world of the undead with his own original zombie tale, "Army of the Dead."
Yes, it's way too long (it is a Zack Snyder film after all), and it never quite lives up to its outstanding opening sequence. But sometimes it's nice to just rest one's brain, and that particular muscle is not at all needed to enjoy this one. "Army of the Dead" definitely pays tribute to the zombie genre, in that mindlessness is not only welcome, it's the main dish.
If only it didn't take itself so seriously.
The "Freaky Friday" body-switch gimmick is given a gory, R-rated twist in "Freaky," a deliciously cheesy horror-comedy hitting theaters this Friday.
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