31 Days of Dread – Week 3

This week’s films started off about as bad as it can get but it got better and held steady. All in all, this has been the most consistent week of horror films so far.

Film 15 – 3 From Hell (Rental) – Rob Zombie fascinates me. He clearly has a love of the horror genre, specifically 70s era “extreme” horror akin to Texas Chainsaw and Last House on the Left. He has a visual signature that is distinctive in today’s cinema. He’s not a particular good director though (and he’s generally a horrible writer) but his films are almost always fascinating. 3 From Hell isn’t fascinating it’s just two hours of vile actions by despicable human beings strung together. There is no one to root for here but the Firefly clan is positioned as the ones we should relate to. I can’t and nothing in this film clicked for me outside of the first five or so minutes (which coincidently enough is also the only part Sid Haig is featured in). 1*

Film 16 – Belzebuth (Shudder) – I’m a huge fan of religious horror. By that I mean demonic possession, exorcisms, etc… Films like The Exorcist and The Conjouring are captivating to me and I even like nonsense like End of Days and Stigmata (hell give me Gabriel Byrne in a religous horror role and I’m on board). Anyway Belzebuth is one of these types of films (sadly without Gabriel Byrne). What starts off as a Mexican police mystery turns in to a nutty border crossing demon battle. It takes a bit too long to get to the good stuff but once Tobin Bell (Saw) shows up, it gets fun. 3*

Film 17 – Summer of 84 (Shudder) – The simple premise is that a group of friends on summer vacation believe their police office neighbor is a seriel killer. For most of the film its just kids playing detective and spying on their neighbor. it’s fun up until its not, in the last act when the film takes a super dark turn. It’s well made, the kids are pretty good actors, the adventure aspect hits but the tonal shift takes it just a bit too far in the end. Still pretty solid overall. 3*

Film 18 – Zombieland: Double Tap (Theater) – I really enjoyed the original Zombieland. It had its issues but the core group they assembled and the ridiculous zombie antics that ensued was fun. I didn’t feel it needed a sequel but here we are a decade later with one and you know what, the core group they’ve reassembled and the ridiculous zombie antics that ensue are still fun. I liked it. 3*

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Film 19 – Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix) – Some films are pretentious bullshit. Velvet Buzzsaw is one of those films. Filled with rich people stabbing each other (figuratively) over art that will eventually stab them back (literally), this is all kinds of terrible. But my god is the cast eating up this schlocky material and spewing it back out all over the screen and I don’t know, I found it captivating. 3*

Film 20 – Lake Mungo (Prime) – I suppose Lake Mungo falls in the found footage film sub-genre but it’s more an actual (mock) documentary on the drowning death of a teenage girl and how the family believed she had come back as a ghost but that was a hoax but there was something going on. It’s super slow and ultimately I don’t think it pays itself off but it’s super well made for what it is. 3*

Film 21 – Await Further Instructions (Netflix) – What would you do if you woke up to find your house had been completely blocked off with no way out? All communication methods are dead except for strange instructions on your television. Those instructions get weirder and weirder as time goes one and the morale of the family wavers and the group starts to fracture and infight. This is the core premise behind Await Further Instructions. I think there is an underlying message about taking media at face value and that television is trying to control us and assimilate us but it mostly fails there and the ending is just straight up stupid. That said, 75 of the 90 minutes is great and filled with tension. 3*

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