Category Archives: Movies

SXSW: Jakob’s Wife – Reinvention By Way Of Bloodletting

Jakob’s Wife is Travis Stevens’ directorial follow up to Girl On The Third Floor. Written by Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland and Stevens, Jakob’s Wife centers on Anne (Barbara Crampton), the wife of a small town minister (Larry Fessenden) who feels she has been shrinking away, fully absorbed by her “church mouse” pastor’s wife role over the course of the last three decades. Her husband often talks over her, dismissive, and she is largely unseen. Everything changes when Anne has an unexpected encounter, and she becomes absolutely unleashed. This movie takes so many elements of favorite horror films from a bygone era, throws them in a blender and smoothly pours it back out- an entirely new cocktail elegantly mixed with just enough modern updates to make it fresh, refreshing, and brand spanking new.

Barbara Crampton as an often overlooked housewife, reclaiming her power, her voice, her sexuality and her sense of self is a joy to watch. Dripping in dark humor and an absolute bloodbath of gore that quite literally shoots and sprays in a delightful deluge. As Jakob reassures Anne, “This is what I was trained for. To fight evil.” I can’t help but recall another line from a member of the cloth in regards to fighting evil, “I kick ass for the Lord!”. In addition to all the wacky wonderful being delivered here, Anne’s fashion evolution was a special treat in itself.

Overall, this was a really fun one. Seeing it with an audience, the right audience in a midnight movie type setting would really set this unfettered, full throttle. It knows exactly what it is, so it cuts loose and allows free range to play with an abundance of sanguine soaked scenes and dark humor. We don’t get very many lead characters like Anne, middle aged housewives are not typically central to the story and that’s a damn shame. Crampton lifting furniture and dancing with abandon to Concrete Blonde is a prime example of one of these cutting all the way loose moments; but it also has a message at the core regarding relationships and our lives, who we become, how we become. A commentary on feeling stagnant and clawing, gnashing our way out of that stagnancy with fangs bared, to reclaim a sense of self. A journey back to the self, or maybe even becoming the best version for the first time.

Jakob’s Wife premiered as part of the SXSW Midnighters series, and will be available on Shudder in April.

SXSW: Sasquatch- Weed, Greed, Murder + Cryptids In This New Hulu Documentary

Is it a Sasquatch documentary? Or is it a true crime doc? Yes.

Both of these elements are explored in Hulu’s upcoming documentary limited series, executive produced by the Duplass Brothers. At the risk of spoiling, the first episode is pretty Sasquatch-heavy featuring local Sasquatch experts and enthusiasts. There are also interviews with the guys involved in arguably the most famous Sasquatch footage in existence- the Patterson-Gimlin Film which was shot in 1967 in Northern California. The docuseries centers specifically on journalist David Holthouse. In 1993 Holton was visiting a pot farm in Northern California. It was during this stay on the pot farm that Holton heard a story about three men who were ripped apart on a nearby farm. The claim was that Bigfoot was the culprit. Twenty five years later, Holton returns to the area to investigate what really happened that night. Who were the victims? Was Bigfoot really to blame for the murders? Did those murders even actually occur?

Through a series of interviews with Bigfoot experts and people who are able to reconstruct the environment of the Cannabis industry in the are in the early 90’s, David is led down a dark path in the pursuit of the truth.

Sasquatch is a three-part documentary series
premiering on Hulu April 20th

SXSW: Luchadoras – Fight For Your Dreams, Fight For Your Life

There is so much more here than you might be expecting. Yes, it is a documentary about badass female Mexican wrestlers. But aside from the world of lucha, these women are fighting against machismo and violence in Juarez, Mexico – a place that at one point earned the title of “deadliest city” because its homicide rate was so high. And I don’t just mean homicide across the board, this is primarily gender-based violence targeting women.

This documentary centers primarily on three fighters- Baby Star, Mini Sirenita and Lady Kandy. Outside of the ring we come to know the women as fighters in their day-to-day lives.

Baby Star- A legacy fighter, the daughter of a luchador with no sons, and so he taught his daughters (Baby Star and Little Star) the art of lucha.

Mini Sirenita – A mother and a grandmother, with aspirations of moving to Mexico City to be closer to her daughter, grandchildren and fighting in the big time.

Lady Kandy – Outside of the ring, she is fighting to see her daughters. Her ex fled to the U.S. taking her children with him and along with her rise to success in the ring, we also follow her fight back to her girls.

Directors Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasmin not only allow the audience to see these women as luchadoras, but as mothers. As grandmothers. As strong women existing in this world. All of this set against the backdrop of Juarez, where women are habitually murdered and frequently go missing. The luchadoras run a self defense workshop for women, they take to the streets and protest against violent machismo and femicide. In a conversation about family Mini Sirenita talks about how she felt better off alone as a single parent, “You are your own macho”. For these women, lucha is more than a sport. It is more than entertainment. It is a rebellion. It is a movement.

Fight for your dreams. Fight for you life.

One of the closing shots is a powerful composition featuring a long line of women from all walks of life, stretching across a vast empty desert; the luchadoras stand with them and they collectively stare straight down the barrel of the lens with a defiance that you believe in and root for. A moving portrait of warrior women and a strong reminder that in the end- aren’t so many of us just fighting for a better life?

SXSW Gaia: PArt Creature-Feature/Cautionary Eco Horror

Tertius Kapp and Jaco Bouwer’s Gaia is a South African eco-horror with plenty of monstrous fun lurking deep in the jungles. When park rangers Gabi (Monique Rockman) and Winston (Anthony Oseyemi) embark upon a routine surveillance mission in a primordial forest, they are quickly thrown a curve ball when the drone Gabi is piloting comes face to face with a human and is struck down. Gabi insists on retrieving the drone, which Winston wisely warns her against, saying something akin to “sometimes you are just like those white folks”, as in the must-go-and investigate horror movie trope. In spite of Winston’s initial instinct, Gabi insists and he appeases. As she searches for her drone, Gabi encounters a father and son duo living off the grid, in a post-apocalyptic fashion. They are covered in mud, for the most part dressed only in loincloths and armed with homemade weapons.

While it initially seems this movie might be in the vein of Deliverance it takes a turn more akin to elements reminiscent of Annihilation complete with strange spores drifting through the air. The newly formed trio is forced to fend off attacks from strange jungle creatures and Gabi begins to learn more about the reasons behind the father and son’s existence in the jungle. There are a good amount of creature effects and body horror, invoking bits of The Ruins along with disturbing psychedelic nightmares. This cautionary sci-fi tale dealing with humanity choosing its own demise hits a little too close to home as fantasy and reality collide in the form of a potentially rapidly spreading threat that could manifest in multiple forms- be it climate change, disease, violence, a stark reminder that the list is potentially endless when it comes to the multitude of ways in which we hurt ourselves.

SXSW The Feast – THERE’S DIRT EVERYWHERE (and they will know us by the trail of dirt)

I write this on the Vernal Equinox and that feels quite fitting. Roger Williams and Lee Haven Jones’ The Feast presents all the trappings of a well-to-do family. A pristine mid-century modern home to kill for, juxtaposed against a rural setting sprawled across acres of family farm land, where a nuclear family unit resides, preparing for an impending dinner party.

The first hour of this Welsh language horror story is spent kind of wondering what this is all about. It is gorgeously shot, making full use of the beauty of its setting, playing with negative space in a way that makes every frame feel like a beautifully composed photograph. It plays like a family drama with strange and sinister undertones. The polished facade is not all it seems, but for an hour, things are mostly only hinted at. However, after that point- everything becomes absolutely fucking unhinged. And by that I mean the movie becomes something else entirely. The curtains are pulled back and the darkness that has been silently snaking its way through the story begins to reveal itself in full, and the story doesn’t just unravel at this point- it explodes.

THERE’S DIRT EVERYWHERE, it becomes quite bloody by this point as well. And they will know us by the trail of dirt. And blood. A morality tale, to take heed against greed. When you’ve taken everything, what else is there and what will you have to repay when collection comes due? While the message of don’t fuck with nature, is very clear this is much more than an eco-horror. Mixing elements together for a gruesome, strange and satisfying payoff. I’ll let you find out for yourselves what else reveals itself after the first hour of this slow burn morality tale. It’s an enjoyable character driven story that takes its time getting to the climax, but fully delivers upon arrival.

SXSW – Alex Noyer’s Sound Of Violence: A Marquis De Sade For The Digital Age

If you were to experience true bliss, if you could see heaven- what would you be willing to do to replicate the experience? Ten-year-old Alexis regains her hearing during the brutal murder of her family. Not only is her hearing recovered, but she experiences the sounds visually in gorgeous psychedelic color. The phenomenon is addicting and Alexis spends her life chasing that dragon, so to speak, through her studies in sound and the conducting of violent experiments. Collecting sounds of violence in the hopes of replicating the phenomenon and retaining her hearing, Alexis is willing to go to any length and sacrifice anything in pursuit of her gruesome endeavors. A Marquis De Sade for the digital age.

Sound Of Violence is such a fresh, cool concept and it truly delivers. This movie also has one of my favorite kill scenes in recent memory. Without spoiling it, Alexis is something of a genius, able to create intricate devices and contraptions for use in her sound experiments. One scene in particular centers on a choreographed gorefest that is so wholly original, and true to the movie’s title- the sound is what makes it so highly effective. Alexis is a maestro of violence, completely in the zone, creating through destruction with absolutely unhinged pleasure.

Through these various sound experiments, Alexis gathers these violent clips and incorporates them into experimental music tracks. Thus making the music a very important part of this movie. “What would that possibly sound like?” We get to hear explicitly what that would be, and it would have been easy to cop out on this part, but luckily Alex Noyer opted to take it all the way, fleshing it out and truly brings us into Alexis’ world.

Written and directed by Alex Noyer, starring Jasmin Savoy Brown (Scream 2022), Lili Simmons (Bone Tomahawk), James Jagger (Vinyl) and Tessa Munro (S.W.A.T.)

Sound of Violence makes its world premiere @ SXSW March 18th
Also available in theaters and on demand May 21st.

SXSW 2021: The Thing That Ate The Birds (Short)- Horror On the Moors

South By Southwest (SXSW) Film FestivalThe Thing That Ate The Birds? Yes, of course I’m enticed. Please, tell me. What is the Thing that ate the birds?

Within seconds the tone is set with a starkly elegant title screen and violent violins ramping up to a fever pitch*. A grin spreads wide across my face and I lean in towards the TV, rubbing my hands together diabolically.

Less than five minutes in and I said out loud, to an empty room, “What the fuck!?” and also “Oh god!” We are off to a promising start.

A tension filled, strained marriage set against the backdrop of the expansive North Yorkshire Moors . A groundskeeper and his assistant stumble across… you guessed it another dead bird. It seems it’s been a problem in these parts and when the duo encounters a very likely suspect, (which will inevitably haunt my dreams for weeks to come), head groundskeeper Abel takes action. He’s a real act-first-think-later kind of guy, now is it all well and done or might this come back to bite him in the ass down the line?

There are lots of nice practical fx here; as a whole it is a well done, sinister piece. Fraught with tension through and through, it will likely have you wound as tightly as those screaming strings for the duration of its fourteen minute runtime. Writer/Director team Sophie Mair and Dan Gitsham do indeed provide you with an answer to the query- what the hell ate the birds!? There might be more to fear on the moors than what the phrase typically tends to bring to mind.

The Thing That Ate The Birds premiered as part of the Midnight Shorts collection at SXSW Online 2021

*I don’t in fact know they were violins, but definitely string instruments and I liked the alliteration.

In Search Of Darkness Part II: More Than “Gruesome Stupidity”

Beloved horror icons talking about beloved 80’s horror classics. That’s enough to sell me on this, but if you need more reasons…

If you’re a fan of In Search of Darkness, this is a no-brainer. If you haven’t yet seen In Search of Darkness but you’re a fan of 80s horror, go watch In Search of Darkness and then watch In Search of Darkness II (You can actually even watch the second one first if that tickles your fancy). If the first movie was a primer to 80s horror, this extension allows for a deeper dive into some more beloved classics, covered by interviews with equally beloved horror icons.

This sequel is a seamless continuation of the original installment. Basically there was way too much good shit to fit into the four hour original, so now we get a second installment. And in no way do these feel like “leftovers” or something cobbled together off the cutting room floor. It’s every bit as enjoyable as the first.

Also….. THERE’S A WHOLE GIALLO SEGMENT *cue technicolor head explosion* That in itself is reason enough for me, but there is truly so much wonderfully great stuff here.

In Search of Darkness Part II is running a flash sale through midnight, Valentine’s Day, so hashtag treat yo’ self and snag this sweet package! 80shorrordoc.com

In Search of Darkness: Part II Flash Sale Package includes:

  • In Search of Darkness: Part II Blu-ray w/ slipcase, reversible cover label, and booklet
  • 3 exclusive In Search of Darkness: Part II posters (16.5” x 23.4”)
  • Collectible enamel pin (while supplies last)
  • In Search of Darkness: Part II digital edition
  • In Search of Darkness digital edition
  • In Search of Darkness: Part II Soundtrack and score (digital download)
  • ISOD Discord Community season pass

IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS: PART II – OFFICIAL TRAILER – FLASH SALE FEB 2021 from CreatorVC on Vimeo.

And here’s an interview with Fangoria’s Editor in Chief Phil Nobile Jr. chatting with Director David Weiner about ’80s horror and part 2 of the IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS documentary:

Final Girls Berlin (Virtual) Film Festival Feb 4th-7th

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival showcases horror cinema that’s directed, written, or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. While the features are geo-locked to Germany there is a slew of excellent content in the short film programs. Individual ticket blocks are just under $8 USD, you can also purchase an international pass for about $25 USD which will give you access to the entire slate of shorts programming. You have the option to watch the live stream of each shorts block with a filmmaker Q&A, or purchase your ticket and you’ll have 22 hours to start the stream.

The Cyber Horror shorts block is now expired, but you still have time to get in on Isolation Horror – Cabin Fever, Revenge Horror – An Eye For An Eye, Young Blood and Comedy Horror – Busting A Gut. If the fresh and original content in the Cyber Horror block is any indication of the caliber of talent awaiting in the remaining shorts programs- you definitely do not want to sleep on this.

Also lots of cool, free panels and events to check out as well!

Head over to Final Girls Berlin and get your tickets now.

From Final Girls Berlin:
** Our definition of women includes anyone with female experience –past or present– and is trans-inclusive. Anyone who feels addressed by the term is welcome to submit their films to the festival. **

“Hunted” – Vincent Paronnaud’s Modern Maximum Revenge-Riff On Little Red Riding HooD Now On Shudder

Vincent Paronnaud’s (PERSEPOLIS) Hunted hits Shudder today. Some solid cosplay inspo here in this modified mutation of Little Red Riding Hood.

What starts out as a chilling campfire tale being relayed to a kid looking like he might shit his pants, leads into real world, present day protagonist and Little Red Riding Hood-esque, Eve. We are first introduced to Eve on the job, immediately followed by a call from her boss who patronizes her for presumably not being “hard enough” on getting the crew to meet deadlines and offering to send a male cohort to get-the-job-done. After a rough day at work, our girl his the bar for a drink. The truly terrifying part of this movie for me was Eve navigating through the city as an independent woman who can very much hold her own and the multiple encounters she thwarts with lecherous leering wolves in the form of men slinking about. Eve is smart, savvy – but we are in a horror film after all.

Not to spoil anything, but this is a revenge tale so we can assume that 1) at some point shit goes sideways for Eve 2) at some point the tables turn. And were you wagering on these two points, you would be a bit richer right now. Once shit goes sideways, a relentless hunt ensues and the wolf in sheep’s clothing is even more heinous than one could have suspected. More vile than vile and we want terrible things to happen to him. It gets real grindhousey somewhere around here. The tables turn. And turn again. And then once more. And maybe a few times hence. Relentlessly beating the absolute shit out of these characters.

There is a shocking moment that had me sort of screaming at the screen. I don’t really know how we were intended to feel about it but I screamed and did one of those sort of inappropriate shock induced giggling bits. There’s a real Braveheart moment that looks super cool, possibly also a nod to another French film Pierrot le Fou– but the way it comes about was another moment that took me out of the story a little bit on account of scratching my head a bit. Geography is not my strong point but there is a segment involving woods, corn fields and then suddenly BAM civilization seemingly much closer than it should be. Much of the film is heavily grounded in reality, so slightly fantastical elements (and I don’t mean magic but more along the lines of characters appearing and vanishing or seemingly geographic inconsistencies) is a bit jarring. Maybe it’s a fever dream and we are working on an acid trip of a timeline and geography at this juncture. Just go with it.

By the end of the film, things are looking quite gorgeous and feral and some gruesome shit has been consumed. Lucie Debay as Eve is a treat to watch as she becomes abso-fucking-lutely unhinged and feral and Arieh Worthalter as the (formerly) charming maniac is truly terrifying. While I wish there were some plot points that carried to further fruition and I was pulled out of it a bit at times, it was an enjoyable watch. Some of the things alluded to aren’t totally ignored, I just personally would have loved to see them really at the forefront for the payoff. Feminist revenge horror, comeuppance, reclaiming your power, returning to your roots, punctuated with grindhouse level gore… all good shit.

Stream Hunted now on Shudder