As a teen in the 90s, I loved Winona Ryder. Her movies, from Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael to Reality Bites, shaped much of my adolescence and coming of age. I was excited to see that she recently starred in a horror movie, Gone in the Night.
I admit that I went into the movie with low expectations because I haven’t liked much of Winona Ryder’s work over the past 10 or 20 years. But her renewed popularity being on Netflix’s Stranger Things gave me hope that she could be working on a better quality movie.
I enjoyed the film. The characters were interesting, and how the story unfolded kept my interest. Although it had plot reveals throughout it, there were clues in scenes well before the reveals, which I appreciated. I don’t like twists and turns that blind-side me, so I liked how I could piece together the story as the protagonist uncovered the plot’s mystery.
The movie could have ended in one of many ways, and I liked how it concluded. It felt just artsy and weird enough to make me feel satisfied that I was watching a Winona Ryder movie.
Horowitz, Eli. Gone in the Night, Vertical Entertainment, 2022.
Full disclosure: I love Zak Bagans and Ghost Adventures.
The host, Zak, is endearing and kind to others but becomes angry and dramatic around ghosts and ghost activity. I live for ghosts caught on camera, and the show has some of the best audio and video recordings that send chills up my spine. I also like that the episodes are thoughtful in their storytelling about the locations they visit, with their mix of spookiness and a reverence for the past and the spirit world.
Watching the movie Grave Encounters, I was immediately connected to the characters because they were a parody of the Ghost Adventures crew, and I felt like I already knew who they were. I love jump scares and all things ghosts, so I truly enjoyed the movie. I was particularly surprised by the turn of events in the last quarter. It was not what I was expecting, but it was everything I never knew I wanted! Grave Encounters is one of a few horror movies that I liked from beginning to end, and on multiple viewings.
A sequel was made that I did not like as much, but I would recommend it for the purists who want to see it for themselves.
The Vicious Brothers. Grave Encounters, Tribeca Film, 2011.
Ti West’s horror movies are among my favorites—The Innkeepers, The Sacrament, and The House of the Devil—that I have seen multiple times. His newest feature, X, lives up to his reputation.
Like his previous movies, X takes a horror genre cliché and puts a refreshing new spin on it. Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the Wrong Turn series, X takes place in a remote country setting with the locals as villains. Watching it, I admit that I was skeptical at first because I had seen the storyline before. But, I was intrigued early on because of the reason why the main cast of characters was going to the remote country location, which was something I had never seen before, so that kept my attention. Then, as the narrative unfolded and the villain was introduced and developed, I was hooked!
With good pacing, satisfying gore, and a strong cast of characters, I highly recommend X.
West, Ti. X, A24, 2022.
I am fan of the Insidious franchise mostly because of Lin Shaye’s character Elise Rainier. I was especially happy when the movies became largely about her character, offering more of Lin Shaye’s sincere and haunting performances.
Did you know that Lin Shaye has been acting in the horror genre for a while? She was a high school teacher in 1984’s Nightmare on Elm Street.
A more recent horror movie starring Lin Shaye is 2019’s Room for Rent.
With the same sincerity she uses to play Elise Rainier, Lin Shaye makes the protagonist of Room for Rent endearing. However, in this movie, instead of being a champion for good like Elise, her character is obsessive and dark. She certainly carries the movie, but she does it well.
Craven, Wes. Nightmare on Elm Street, New Line Cinema, 1984.
Stovall, Tommy. Room for Rent, Uncork’d Entertainment, 2019.
Wan, James and Leigh Whannell (created by). Insidious (film series), 2011-ongoing.
I came across The Turning on Netflix. I enjoyed most of it: the contrast of the modern main character with the older estate and secondary characters; the jump scares with the mannequin; a creepy kid, who is a ghost?
My interest fell off about two thirds through when I lost touch with where the story was going. The main character was going mad and seeing things, and, instead of focusing in on the ghost story as a conclusion, I found that it spiraled out into chaos.
I have never been that impressed by Henry James’s “Turning of the Screw.” I have tried a few times over my lifetime because I love some of his other works, and I love nothing more than a ghost story. When I started this movie, I was hopeful that it would be a fresh take on the story and could change my mind on the source material.
Sigismondi, Floria. The Turning, Universal Pictures, 2020.
According to Piper Laurie, she honestly thought her character in Carrie (1976) was too over the top fanatical to be taken seriously. Director Brian De Palma had to take her to the side and personally tell her it was a horror film and not a “black comedy” as she thought it was. Even so, she would constantly burst out into laughter between takes because not only was her characterization and wardrobe laughable in her eyes, but the dialogue itself was humorous for her. To this day, she still refers to and maintains the movie as a black comedy.
More behind-the-scenes facts at IMDb Trivia: Carrie (1976).
I had high expectations going into Hatchet III because I thoroughly enjoyed the other movies in the franchise. I was not disappointed. Not only did this iteration of the Victor Crowley story offer satisfying blood and guts, it expanded on the folkloric backstory behind the villain. Whereas other franchises can get bogged down by trying to explain backstory, this one made it better, changing my view of Crowley as a crazy swamp man into a crazy swamp monster.
If you like the Hatchet movies, then I am pretty certain you will like this one, too. Highly recommended!
McDonnell, B.J. Hatchet III, Dark Sky Films, 2013.