I had the privilege of reading this script and it’s one of those concepts that is so perfect it seems it should have been done a thousand times before. The best ideas tend to feel this way, and the best ideas tend to have me kicking myself for not thinking to do the seemingly obvious. Fully experienced both of these while reading. Marco’s script oozes with heart, and while it does pay tribute to all the beloved slashers so close to our collective horror-loving-hearts, it delivers a hell of a lot more than nostalgia. By the end, I was choked up and my heart strings had been effectively tugged. Can’t wait to see the kill scenes on screen. Take a look at this pitch video and let the excitement commence.
Spiral is a brand new beast with legs strong enough to stand on its own while still fitting nicely into the Saw family franchise and the lore that came before. It is at once fresh and faithful, reverent of its lineage but not so much of an homage that its afraid to spread its wings and become its own brand new entity. Thankfully, it was given the necessary space to cut loose and fly rather than prematurely clipping its wings. From The Book of Saw, a story is birthed and emerges, something akin to a proud parent sending a child out into the world with certain foundations in place coupled with complete freedom to grow and evolve.
To label it “another Saw movie” would be unfair to both the existing installments in the franchise which so intricately weaves story and timeline together and unfair to this original new entry. Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III,IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera) and writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger (Jigsaw, Piranha 3D) offer up an expansion to the universe in which Jigsaw exists. Chris Rock’s quippy levity is a nice balance to the guts and gore of the twisted games fans have come to love over the course of eight Saw films. Max Minghella is charming as the rookie cop assigned as reluctant Detective Zeke Banks’ (Chris Rock) eager new partner. Marisol Nichols is a take-no-shit badass as Captain of the precinct and of course, Samuel L. Jackson as Det. Banks’ father is likely exactly what you’d hope he’d be, motherfu**er!
You don’t need to watch all eight Saw films before diving into Spiral, but it certainly adds to the fun. This works as a standalone which is great for new or casual fans, but also is a fun nod to the series and the spirit of the franchise for existing fans. A real benefit of having a director and writers who have previously worked and created within the franchise is the way they were able to keep the spirit alive while deviating and breaking away in ways that strengthened this new story. Overall this new installment feels closer to a police procedural, where the majority of the existing movies take place largely from within Jigsaw’s traps, this one takes us on the outside following along with Detective Banks as the clock ticks against him and his colleagues. It feels accessible to new fans in a way that allows them to watch this as their introduction to the world and then dive into the rest of the series and essentially experience those as prequels. So don’t shy away from this if you’re not eight Saw films deep. This movie works well for both camps and I’m excited to see more of this universe it has blown wide open, ripe for the storytelling.
After the delay from its original May 2020 release date, Spiral heralds a collective triumphant return to movie theaters. It’s popcorn season and we are just getting started! See you at the theater.
Spiral spins into theaters this Friday, May 14th.
Check out the opening scene from the movie (warning, it’s brutal!)
In Search Of Darkness II is now on Shudder and if you’re like me, maybe you wanted a list of every movie mentioned in parts one and two. So here’s a gorgeously put together syllabus courtesy of my very organized and wonderful friend @TheDezz !
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.