With the circumstances we have faced for over a year with this damned pandemic and forced to live in forms of isolation, our world has, at times, mirrored many cinematic happenings such as The Last Man on Earth or its reboots The Omega Man and I Am Legend with its desolate byways and thinning throngs of humanity sans the nocturnal activities of the infected, undead vampires. Even though our vaccination efforts are moving along and there is hope of some type of normalcy returning in the near future, the dystopian despair still lingers.
The Shudder original Fried Barry should be screened at drive-ins at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night. It’s lewd, gory, and bonkers. This type of alien abduction movie isn’t like Fire in the Sky (1993) or The McPherson Tape (1989). Instead, it’s an absurd film about an alien that takes a test drive in a degenerate’s body, encountering some of the worst dregs of society along the way.
Low-budget films feel like they should be the ideal place to more brutally explore important themes. Unburdened by the notes that come with money, and unable to cover up their seams with the same, they can be virtuosic demonstrations of what good craft and creative fixes can do. However, to do that, there needs to be an understanding of writing and filmmaking craft that goes beyond having a character state their blunt intentions in a reverse shot.
This gets worse when the plot is as derivative as PainKiller. The film follows Bill (Bill Oberst Jr.), a man out on a mission to kill individuals involved in the distribution of opiates. His daughter overdosed, and he has now made it his righteous duty to avenge her. If that sounds like a pseudo-fed Death Wish, that’s because it is, and the narrative never tries to explore beyond that.
Before departing to the theatre to watch In The Earth, I had to stop home and change clothes. I grabbed the first comfortable shirt I found; a picture of Mount Rushmore on the front and one of the carved faces telling the others ‘dude, we are so stoned’. Get it? A pun of fine proportions and applicable to this review because I feel like the filmmakers were high when they made this movie. That in itself isn’t the problem but whether under the influence of something or not, a film can either end up fantastic or frustrating. This one is the latter for me if we’re looking at the film as a whole. Its strength comes from its assorted parts.
Trudging through life we are constantly bombarded with memories we wish we could let go of, some painful, some embarrassing, and many in between. With the success and uptick of movies discussing Alzheimer’s recently, the concept of memory, how it plays tricks on us, and the possibility of forgetting who we are is ever-present. Cerebrum is no exception. Directed by Arvi Ragu and written by Ragu and Gary D. Houk, this film uses a clever science fiction background to reveal our fears of love, loss, and family trauma, all surrounding how we preserve and make our own memories of it all.
One lesson any film buff learns from studying film history is that American and Russian cinema continue to share a symbiotic relationship. It began when a few Soviets saw the works of D.W. Griffith and came up with Montage Theory, which led to a style of editing that has been used from music videos to action blockbusters. For better or worse, post-soviet Russian cinema has adopted a very American blockbuster aesthetic, heavily emulating the style of what is popular in the States. This is appropriate, given that the subject of this review is Sputnik, a Cold War slow-burn about an alien and its host.
Each year, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences strives to honor the best achievements in filmmaking at the Oscars. Now, while everyone is entitled to their own opinions on what makes a particular film or performance the “best,” the Academy has made one thing clear, they are not fans of horror. Only six horror movies have ever competed for Best Picture and only one has gone on to win. It’s not much better in the acting category where only six actors have ever taken home a statue for their performance in a horror film. So in honor of the Oscars this weekend, and it’s complete lack of horror nominations, some of the HorrOrigins writing team nominated their own favorite horror Oscar snubs.
The horror genre has a long history, just like the fear of monsters under the bed. Fear is implanted in us at a young age, in part, through fairy tales and bedtime stories passed down for centuries. At the top of the list for such stories are Grimm’s Fairy Tales; the stories of witches, monsters, and bad parenting all in the name of teaching a lesson. They’ve inspired the timeless works of Disney, but true to the original tones of the stories, the Brothers Grimm have also inspired several horror films over the decades. The most recent one being 2020’s Gretel & Hansel, directed by the son of “Norman Bates,” Oz Perkins. With horror royalty in his blood, how does Perkins adapt the classic tale of children lost in the woods at the mercy of a hungry witch?
“We tried until we found it cruel.”
The first line of any film is something to consider. As a writer, you want to set the tone and major themes early on, like how Cary Elwes starts The Princess Bride with, “check out this shit you blithering monkeys.” Maybe these first few words are the key to understanding the artisanal misery porn that is The Believer (2021).
As one character explains five minutes into Dreamcatcher while watching a horror marathon, the whole point of torture porn is to make one squirm. I don’t think this film falls under that category, and sadly, it doesn’t seem to be part of any category. That in itself, isn’t a bad thing. Some of the best films upend their genres to deliver something thrilling. Here, I didn’t find much that was thrilling. I was more likely to squirm just from a surreal sense of boredom.