Saturday, December 8, 2018

Candidate #8

Season 1 Episode 3
(December 2018)

I'm tellin’ ya, this thing tested through the roof. This is gonna rip Christmas a new a$$hole.”

Well, lookee here!
Señor Nacho Vigalondo is back ‘round these parts, with Into the Dark’s third “episode,” Pooka!

Working from a script written by Gerald Olson, Vigalondo brings us the bleak Christmas tale of Wilson (Nyasha Hatendi), who’s come to Los Angeles to “start over,” only to have his “blank slate” apparently begin to be written over by the devious machinations of a disturbingly sinister-looking mascot costume.

In Pooka!, there are horrors amidst the absurdities, and absurdities amidst the horrors.
And, drifting in and out and through the festive carols and twinkling Christmas lights, we catch fleeting glimpses of the demeaning nature of the audition process and the tellingly rude reality of flash-in-the-pan success, and hear the echoing, ultimately hollow apologies of the serial abuser.
Happy Christmas?
Not so much in Pooka!

“Look at all the pretty lights…”

Parting Shot: There are mentions of Vigalondo’s Los Cronocrimenes (Timecrimes) here, and his contribution to V/H/S: Viral here.

(Into the Dark: Pooka! OS courtesy of

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Candidate #7

(June 2018)

Look at Possum, there he lies
Children, meet his lifeless eyes
See his nasty legs and tongue
When he wakens, watch him run

Drenched in tone and atmosphere, dotted with mysteries (a bag and its hideous contents; a perpetually closed door), Matthew Holness’ debut feature Possum is subjective, oblique horror at its finest.
In it, Sean Harris (notable to this film and music geek for portraying Joy Division’s Ian Curtis in Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People) plays Philip Connell, who returns to his now squalid childhood home in an attempt to rid himself of his figurative (or perhaps literal?) demons.

And since we’ve mentioned music, certain aspects of Possum put me in mind of a particular track from The Cure’s Disintegration.
If you take a gander at Possum, and are a Cure fan, you’ll know which track I’m referring to…
And even if you aren’t a Cure fan, and are also somehow opposed to horror films that don’t rely on over-exposition, surely the eponymous Possum is a creature of deep, dark nightmare that, at the very least, demands to be seen, so its insidious presence can stain even your most innocent, sundrenched dreams…

Wait a while, my little child,
For what is playing dead
Possum, with his black balloons
Will eat you up in bed.

Parting Shot: Sean Harris also appears in Billy O’Brien’s excellently repulsive Isolation (review here).

(Possum OS courtesy of

Friday, November 30, 2018

Candidate #6

(September 2018)

... It's Michael Myers. Babysitter Murders. 1978. 40 years to this day.”
“Michael Myers loose, with a bunch of nutbags in Haddonfield on Halloween night? We’re gonna have a f*ckin’ circus on our hands.
“But hey, what are we gonna do? Cancel Halloween?”

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this is probably the biggest case of “Manage Your Expectations, Space Monkey” that I’ve had to deal with in quite a while.
This is, after all, the four decades-after follow-up to John Carpenter’s original Halloween.*
And I’m glad to announce that it delivers the goods.
Thank you, David Gordon Green and Danny McBride.

“There’s a reason we’re supposed to be afraid of this night.”

While it isn’t as “pure” a horror film as Carpenter’s original, given that once-victim Laurie (a focused, yet clearly traumatized Jamie Lee Curtis) is now a pro-active force intent on finishing what The Shape started all those decades ago, it manages to explore the aftermath of the so-called “Babysitter Murders,” examining its impact on not just Laurie, but on the two generations that succeed her.
It acknowledges that though the Final Girl may have survived the massacre, the scars she will need to carry past the end credits roll will be deep and ugly.
But maybe… just maybe… she’ll get a chance to prove that she’s more than just her scars…

“He waited for this night. He’s waited for me. I’ve waited for him.”

* Maybe I’m used to it because of comics, but I really don’t mind that all the Halloween films after Carpenter’s original are now retconned out of existence.
As is my attitude when it comes to comics pulling the same stunt, it’s not like the stories themselves have been erased, they just aren’t considered “canon” anymore.
Which is still fine, since the movies (or comics) are still there to be enjoyed if ever there’s a hankering.
(‘Cause the Michael Myers-less Halloween III: Season of the Witch is still a wild and wooly ride, with one of the all-time great ‘80’s horror film endings…)

Parting Shot: A review of the now-no-longer-canon Halloween II can he found here, while a review of Rob Zombie’s Halloween redux can be found here.
Spoilers ahoy!

Parting Shot 2: Now the grandmother Laurie here… now there’s a Laurie I can believe is a crack shot.
So… maybe the Halloween II Laurie, just for a second, cracked the alt-reality dimensional barriers and channeled her 40 years-later self?

(Halloween OS’ courtesy of

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Candidate #5

(July 2018)

... I don't do public shows, I don't tell my guys I love them, and I don’t fake my orgasms.
“My rules.”

So says Madeline Brewer’s Alice Ackerman (AKA the cam girl who goes by the handle “Lola_Lola”).
Living her secret life without her mother’s knowledge, struggling to break the Top 50 on FGL (FreeGirlsLive), Alice’s world is turned upside down when a doppelgänger steals her online identity.

“Oh, tonight went so well! I told you people are craving crazy shows!”
“They are! Those guys get so nasty!”
“Yeah… What the f*ck was that?”

Director Daniel Goldhaber’s feature debut, Cam sees Brewer (exceptional as Janine on The Handmaid’s Tale) portray a simple working girl earnestly trying to make it big in her line of work, which involves constantly keeping her "guys"' attention fixed solely on her, lest their libidos wander and turn to the competition literally just a click away.
There is no judgment in the screenplay Goldhaber works from (written by former cam girl Isa Mazzei), no moralizing. Alice’s ordeal isn’t punishment for doing something wrong. If anything, the chilling scenario Cam presents suggests that cam girls are particularly susceptible to this very specific (and very insidious) form of horror film identity theft.

“We were brought together for a reason. Unexpected things happen… to test us. That’s what this is. You’re being tested, but… you’re strong. You’ll make it through.”

After all, we live in a world of Instagram filters, deepfakes, and the persona curation that goes on all the time on social media platforms, where nothing you see online can be assured to be genuine, to be “real.”
Where images, snippets of video, quotes or posts, can be taken out of context, co-opted, and used for purposes entirely divorced from their original intent.
Mazzei and Goldhaber’s tale takes that reality and pushes it into identity horror territory, where a girl who works under an obviously fake name is ousted from her online life by another fake, and can’t seem to get help from anyone other than herself.

“I’ll take care of you, my chickadee.”

Cam is an unsettling and haunting tale of identity and truth in the 21st online century, where both can simply become mutable commodities on the web, and perhaps the only weapon that can be used in their defense, is our own personal agency.

““I’m, like, this f*cking close to breaking Top 50! I can taste it!”

(Cam OS courtesy of