Here's what I liked about the new "Scream VI" movie: There were some very cool kills, some great set-pieces (the opening sequence, a scene set in a mini-mart and a scene spanning across two high-rise apartment windows were super-cool). I really like the main cast - the "Core Four" as they're referred to - of Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown. And there was something that felt "freeing" with this franchise deciding to head out of the confines of Woodsboro, California for the dark, murky, dangerous streets of New York City.
But the "Scream" films have always felt "risen above" the rest of the horror genre...mainly by how it mixes in sharp satire of the horror genre itself. The characters in these films have watched all the horror movies. They know all of the tropes of the genre. Like the savvy viewers sitting in the theater, these people are not going to fall for the usual tricks. This has always made "Scream" feel smart. They have acted as an ongoing subversion of the genre.
As a massive fan of the first four "Scream" chapters, I was not at all a fan of the last chapter, essentially called "Scream 5" (in fact, it was simply called "Scream" as it tried to relaunch itself as a franchise, but that's besides the point). "Scream VI" is a giant improvement over the previous installment, and for its first two-thirds, it felt like an inspired chapter in the ongoing "Scream" saga. But the last half-hour made it IMPOSSIBLE to be on board with, succumbing not only to the terrible tropes that the series often makes fun of, but leaning into them unknowingly.
Knock knock. Who's there? It's "Knock at the Cabin," a shallow, shoddy and condescending thriller that I can already tell you will stand as one of the worst offerings of 2023.
Don't answer the door...you've been warned!
I rarely will start off a review by telling readers to watch the movie first, but in the instance of "Barbarian," I would hate to even spoil a morsel of the fun. So for real, if you haven't yet seen it, it's OK. You don't have to read on if you don't want to. Go see the movie and then come back here.
This isn't a spoiler-heavy review by any means, but "Barbarian" is best experienced by not knowing where the hell it's going. The headline is that I enjoyed it, despite it all falling apart by the end. It's a fantastic date movie or one to experience with friends, and it excels as a film that plays off of audience expectations...and trust me, no one will see where this one twists and turns to.
For the vast majority of "Bodies Bodies Bodies," it feels like just another average horror/thriller. But hang in there, because this one sticks the landing with a surprising pay-off that is well worth the investment.
Those in search of some real answers following the recent string of Marvel's Disney+ series, will find "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" ("DSITMOM") to be a maddening experience indeed.
But as a sheer piece of blockbuster entertainment, this film delivers, with a wild, rapid pace and some of the best visuals ever created thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There are clearly some geniuses that work for Marvel Studios...but their collective effort seems unable to keep the MCU continuity from tangling itself up in giant knots, resulting in a truly dizzying - and increasingly tiring - exercise for the loyal viewers to take part in.
(Plot Spoilers to follow...you've been warned!)
If you saw Netflix's recent "The Tinder Swindler" and thought it was unsettling, then just wait until you get a load of "Fresh." This sharp, witty and downright shocking horror-comedy caused jaws to drop when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2022, and now all of us can share in the exasperation as it lands on Hulu this Friday.
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.
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