Halloween 2018 movie fest

For those that like a little dose of fictional fear and thrill each October, there are endless Halloween movie candidates.  This year’s lineup for me was:

  • The Boy
  • The Endless
  • Apostle
  • Creep 2
  • Hush
  • Holidays
  • Hold The Dark

I plan to also watch a couple TV shows, which I’ll cover later.

  • Ghoul
  • The Haunting of Hill House

Summary

Creep 2 (2017)

Release Date: October 6, 2017
Starring: Mark Duplass, Desiree Akhavan, Karan Soni, Kyle Field
Genres: Horror, Thriller
Runtime: 78 min
Original Title: Creep 2
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: The Orchard, Duplass Brothers Productions, Blumhouse Productions
After finding an ad online for “video work,” Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men, thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer. Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on, she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole from which she can’t escape.

Cast Creep 2

  • Mark Duplass
  • Role: Josef
  • Desiree Akhavan
  • Role: Sara
  • Karan Soni
  • Role: Dave
  • Kyle Field
  • Role: Wade
  • Caveh Zahedi
  • Role: Randy
  • Jeff Man
  • Role: Alex
  • Patrick Brice
  • Role: Old Aaron

Trailer Creep 2

First up was Creep 2, the sequel to Creep.  I liked what Creep set out to do: a serial killer first-person story in the genre of found footage.  That’s an interesting hook.  The sequel took the now-franchise to new areas, yet I found it lacking.  It’s so persistently odd, and not in a good way.  I was pretty bored.

Summary

Hush (2016)

Release Date: March 12, 2016
Starring: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr., Samantha Sloyan, Michael Trucco
Genres: Horror, Thriller
Runtime: 82 min
Original Title: Hush
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Intrepid Pictures, Blumhouse Productions
A deaf woman is stalked by a psychotic killer in her secluded home.

Cast Hush

  • Kate Siegel
  • Role: Maddie
  • John Gallagher Jr.
  • Role: Man
  • Samantha Sloyan
  • Role: Sarah
  • Michael Trucco
  • Role: John
  • Emilia Graves
  • Role: Max

Trailer Hush

Hush is a home invasion movie.

That’s probably enough for you to form an opinion right there.  It usually is enough for me.  These kinds of movies are punishing to both their characters and their audiences.  Watching them is an act of both sadism and masochism.  They’ve been called “torture porn” and for good reason.

The interesting hook with this Hush is that the lead is deaf and mute. And its slightly redeeming quality is that the bad guy gets his in the end too. 

Summary

The Boy (2016)

Release Date: January 22, 2016
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell, Jim Norton
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Mystery
Runtime: 97 min
Original Title: The Boy
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Lakeshore Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment, Diamond Films, STX Entertainment
An American nanny is shocked that her new English family's boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.

Cast The Boy

  • Lauren Cohan
  • Role: Greta Evans
  • Rupert Evans
  • Role: Malcolm
  • James Russell
  • Role: Brahms Heelshire
  • Jim Norton
  • Role: Mr. Heelshire
  • Diana Hardcastle
  • Role: Mrs. Heelshire
  • Ben Robson
  • Role: Cole
  • Jett Klyne
  • Role: Young Brahms Heelshire
  • Lily Pater
  • Role: Emily Cribbs
  • Stephanie Lemelin
  • Role: Sandy (voice)
  • Matthew Walker
  • Role: Taxi Driver

Trailer The Boy

Next up is The Boy.  I really liked this one! It’s small in scale with a simple premise:  An old couple in a huge gothic mansion care for a life-sized boy doll, roughly the age of 8 years old.  Why? Maggie from Walking Dead comes to babysit and things go creepy from there.  It’s tightly claustrophobic and well-paced.  I wasn’t bored at all.

There’s also one hell of a twist.

Summary

The Endless (2018)

Release Date: April 6, 2018
Starring: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez, Tate Ellington
Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Thriller
Runtime: 112 min
Original Title: The Endless
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Snowfort Pictures, Pfaff & Pfaff Productions, Love & Death Productions, Rustic Films
Two brothers return to the cult they fled from years ago to discover that the group's beliefs may be more sane than they once thought.

Cast The Endless

  • Aaron Moorhead
  • Role: Aaron Smith
  • Justin Benson
  • Role: Justin Smith
  • Callie Hernandez
  • Role: Anna
  • Tate Ellington
  • Role: Hal
  • Shane Brady
  • Role: Shane Williams
  • Lew Temple
  • Role: Tim
  • Kira Powell
  • Role: Lizzy
  • David Lawson Jr.
  • Role: Dave
  • James Jordan
  • Role: 'Shitty' Carl
  • Emily Montague
  • Role: Jennifer Danube
  • Peter Cilella
  • Role: Michael Danube
  • Vinny Curran
  • Role: Chris Daniels
  • Ric Sarabia
  • Role: Early 1900's Man
  • Glen Roberts
  • Role: Woods
  • Josh Higgins
  • Role: Ted Tellensworth

Trailer The Endless

Next is The Endless.  Though not expressly a Halloween movie, this bizarre mind warp of a cult movie fits right in there tonally.

Two brothers return to a religious community they fled 10 years ago to better understand what they left.  The Endless quickly becomes an hallucinatory X-Files.  You’re never quite sure what’s real and what’s not. There are genuine moments of dread and mystery though these are undercut by oddly misplaced humor.

Still, this little gem does a lot with very little.

Summary

Apostle (2018)

Release Date: September 21, 2018
Starring: Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, Lucy Boynton, Bill Milner
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy, Horror
Runtime: 130 min
Original Title: Apostle
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: XYZ Films, Severn Screen, One More One Productions
In 1905, a man travels to a remote island in search of his missing sister who has been kidnapped by a mysterious religious cult.

Cast Apostle

  • Dan Stevens
  • Role: Thomas Richardson
  • Michael Sheen
  • Role: Malcolm Howe
  • Lucy Boynton
  • Role: Andrea
  • Bill Milner
  • Role: Jeremy
  • Kristine Froseth
  • Role: Ffion
  • Mark Lewis Jones
  • Role: Quinn
  • Paul Higgins
  • Role: Frank
  • Elen Rhys
  • Role: Jennifer
  • Richard Elfyn
  • Role: Charles
  • Catrin Aaron
  • Role: Elaine
  • Sharon Morgan
  • Role: Her
  • Gareth John Bale
  • Role: Bar Keeper
  • Ioan Hefin
  • Role: Bell Ringer
  • Rhian Morgan
  • Role: Innkeeper
  • John Weldon
  • Role: Lonely Passenger
  • Gareth Pierce
  • Role: Man #1
  • Rhys Meredith
  • Role: Man #2
  • John Norton
  • Role: Man #3
  • Ross O'Hennessy
  • Role: Suspicious Passenger
  • Sebastian McCheyne
  • Role: The Grinder
  • Owain Gwynn
  • Role: Townsguard
  • Annes Elwy
  • Role: Sinead (uncredited)

Trailer Apostle

Tis the season for creepy cult movies I guess.  Here’s another, though more focused on fearful Halloween themes.  In Apostle, A man returns to retrieve his sister from a turn-of-the-century cult.

This one is more similar to the amazing The Witch, where the insane images of long-ago religious fundamentalism create intense dread and despair.  I was quite amazed with what Netflix pulled off in terms of production value; you can see and feel it in the period costumes and setting.

It’s been compared to The Wicker Man — Apostle clearly borrows heavily from it.  It’s expertly paced, careful to unveil its dark shadows slowly. When something shocking happens, it’s such an intensely abrupt interruption as to make you shutter.

Toward the third act, the grand guignol gore really ramps up exponentially. That either delights or repulses you, depending on your horror tastes.

Either way, Apostle doesn’t disappoint.

Summary

Holidays (2016)

Release Date: April 22, 2016
Starring: Harley Quinn Smith, Lorenza Izzo, Seth Green, Clare Grant
Genres: Comedy, Horror
Runtime: 105 min
Original Title: Holidays
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Distant Corners Entertainment Group Inc., XYZ Films
An anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions.

Cast Holidays

  • Harley Quinn Smith
  • Role: Holly
  • Lorenza Izzo
  • Role: Jean
  • Seth Green
  • Role: Pete Gunderson
  • Clare Grant
  • Role: Sara Gunderson
  • Ruth Bradley
  • Role: Elizabeth Cullen
  • Sophie Traub
  • Role: Kate
  • Jocelin Donahue
  • Role: Carol
  • Harley Morenstein
  • Role: Ian
  • Andrew Bowen
  • Role: Reggie
  • Ava Acres
  • Role: Girl

Trailer Holidays

The Holidays is an anthology movie, several directors bring their short films together into a single movie.  The connecting thread between them all is each focuses on a holiday of the month.  I like this little movie’s earnestness.  I’m reminded of the far superior VHS (not its sequel).

The holiday films are:

Valentine’s Day

This was a fun little creep fest that starts out innocuously in a high school bullied protagonist setting.  And then it suddenly gets dark with bloody revenge.  The ending is goofy but playful.

St. Patrick’s Day

My god, what a fever dream of a film! It’s delightfully gruesome but impossible  to follow.

Easter

Easter was delightfully sacrilegious.  What happens when the Crucifixion and the Easter bunny have a twisted love child? Watch to find out.

Mother’s Day

A young woman with a curious inverse-fertility disorder seeks out alternative healthcare from an women’s cult in the remote desert.  What could go wrong? The barren cult members keep her in a drug-induced state for her birthing capacity, but is she just carrying another Rosemary’s Baby?

Father’s Day

I was really blown away by this chapter.  The story was expertly crafted, tight and creepy.  It was well-lit and shot.  Every little detail sucked me in immediately.

A woman receives a mysterious package from her long lost father.  There are audio recordings inside of him and a much younger her.  Yet, the story becomes dreamlike, as the timeline gets blurry.

I won’t talk more about the details. They should be experienced first hand . It’s truly a great film.  It’s demonic and brutal in its starkness.  The thing nightmares are perfectly made of.

Halloween

Internet cam girls get their comeuppance on their pimpy landlord.  It was predictable, but perfectly serviceable.

Christmas

This one was really fun.  It was like a lost episode of Dark Mirror, where a father steals a popular virtual reality gaming system for his kid’s Christmas present. The hook though is that this VR thing is capable of showing your what you want to see. When he peers into it, he’s forced to grapple with what he did, along with his wife’s alter ego.

New Year’s Day

This one wins hands down (or off).  This one was so gleeful in classic horror tropes.  The villain is not necessarily who you think it is.  There’s abduction, ax wielding mayhem, and most importantly, splatter.

Summary

Hold the Dark (2018)

Release Date: September 22, 2018
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Adventure, Drama
Runtime: 126 min
Original Title: Hold the Dark
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Addictive Pictures, filmscience, VisionChaos Productions
In the grim Alaskan winter, a naturalist hunts for wolves blamed for killing a local boy, but he soon finds himself swept into a chilling mystery.

Cast Hold the Dark

  • Jeffrey Wright
  • Role: Russell Core
  • Alexander Skarsgård
  • Role: Vernon Slone
  • James Badge Dale
  • Role: Donald Marium
  • Riley Keough
  • Role: Medora Slone
  • Julian Black Antelope
  • Role: Cheeon
  • Bobbi Jaye
  • Role: Amy
  • Jonathan Whitesell
  • Role: Arnie
  • Beckam Crawford
  • Role: Bailey
  • Peter McRobbie
  • Role: Hunter John
  • Tantoo Cardinal
  • Role: Illanaq
  • Macon Blair
  • Role: Shan
  • Savonna Spracklin
  • Role: Susan
  • Lonni Olson
  • Role: Angry Cop on Radio
  • Eric Keenleyside
  • Role: Big Deputy
  • Michael Tayles
  • Role: Clerk
  • Brian Martell
  • Role: Coroner
  • Conor Boru
  • Role: Corporal
  • Gabriel Cross
  • Role: Crying Cop
  • Barb Mitchell
  • Role: ER Doctor
  • Vanessa Holmes
  • Role: Frantic Wife
  • Maureen Thomas
  • Role: Innkeeper
  • Anabel Kutay
  • Role: Iraqi Woman
  • Emmanuel Imani
  • Role: Medic
  • Makambe Simamba
  • Role: Nurse
  • Sean Hoy
  • Role: Old Timer Deputy
  • Amanda Burke
  • Role: Slone's Mother
  • Ryan Irving
  • Role: Young Deputy
  • Zandus Snow
  • Role: Yup'ik Boy
  • Joseph Whitebird
  • Role: Yup'ik Man
  • Clarence Hoof
  • Role: Yup'ik Prayer #1
  • Savannah Bird
  • Role: Yup'ik Prayer #2
  • Karen Powderface
  • Role: Yup'ik Prayer #3
  • Issac Bird
  • Role: Yup'ik Teen
  • Lorette Clow
  • Role: Core's Wife (uncredited)
  • Nicholas Asbury
  • Role: Doctor (uncredited)
  • Mark Beswick
  • Role: Doctor Hecks (uncredited)

Trailer Hold the Dark

Hold The Dark isn’t strictly a Halloween or horror movie.  Although it is horrifying.  Technically, you’d probably call it a psychological drama, or a crime thriller.  There are no ghosts and ghouls lurking around corners, no jump scares.

Instead, the trauma is very earthbound.  The dread is bleak and natural. It takes itself very seriously, which I appreciate; there’s not an ounce of camp in this one. 

A disturbed Alaskan mother is convinced that her son has been taken by wolves. Her psychotic veteran husband returns from battle to make amends. And an outsider naturalist comes to lend a hand.  The desperation of the characters is equaled by their frozen surroundings. The howling of the wind and the howling of the wolves makes for an inhospitable landscape.

It’s a finely crafted film with mood abounding, brought to us by Jeremy Saulnier.  He also made Green Room and Blue Ruin, both amazing crime films of stark brutality.  It shows here too, though with less focus.

While the soundtrack was stunning, the ending of Hold the Dark was frustratingly esoteric.

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